None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

Recently, I posted a rebuttal to a recent video by Bill Nye, “The Science Guy” that generated more hits on my blog than any other single post I’ve ever put up. What followed (at least with one respectful commenter, tildeb) was an ongoing conversation about the differing views that Christian and secular folks have with regard to the role and implications of science and what we can infer from it about the real world. I have to say that though “tildeb” (I don’t know his name but this is a link to his blog) and I see the world through completely different lenses, the conversation that was generated was pretty informative. I don’t want to rehash it here (you can go to the comments section of the Bill Nye post if you’re interested), but I did think the following exchange (which occurred near the end of the conversation) is telling about how two people can look at the exact same data and draw completely different conclusions. I’ll let readers draw their own conclusions. Here’s the beginning of tildeb’s argument …

There really are compelling reasons why nearly 97% of university tenured biologists reject all forms of creationism; the assumption of supernatural causation is not borne out by information we adduce from this natural universe. In fact, the overwhelming mutually supporting evidence from independent lines of research all point in one direction: common ancestry by natural selection. 

The important aspect here is often ignored by those who cling to creationist beliefs: the evidence did not have to be this way, yet it is! Genetics could have pointed to a single founding couple. Yet it does not. Geology could have pointed to a single creation event. Yet it does not. Topography could have pointed to a global flood. Yet it does not. Radioactive dating could have shown a uniform age of sedimentation. Yet it does not. Physiology could have shown distinct and separate ancestry. Yet it does not. Astronomy could have shown our solar uniqueness. Yet it does not. Physics could have shown exemptions were possible from natural laws. Yet it does not. Chemistry could have shown us cellular rejuvenation through intercessory prayer. Yet it does not. Biodiversity could have shown us stable population dispersal. Yet it does not. Over and over again, opportunities to adduce creation events are plentiful. What’s strikingly absent from all this evidence is any indication for a creationist event.

There really are compelling reasons why nearly 97% of university tenured biologists reject all forms of creationism…

Correct. It’s called groupthink. There really were compelling reasons why nearly 100% of university tenured scientists rejected all forms of heliocentrism before Copernicus/Galileo proved their geocentric view was false. There really were compelling reasons why Einstein (and many others) rejected the notion of an expanding universe because they “knew” the universe was static and eternal.

Your appeal to authority does nothing to change the fact that the sudden appearance and expansion of the universe implies an external cause.

…the assumption of supernatural causation is not borne out by information we adduce from this natural universe. In fact, the overwhelming mutually supporting evidence from independent lines of research all point in one direction: common ancestry by natural selection.

And while you continue to pretend the origin of life is irrelevant to the worldview you are defending, I will continue to insist that you have to explain it too. Even if universal common ancestry is true, it does nothing to explain the origin of complex, specified information in DNA. Nothing.

Genetics could have pointed to a single founding couple. Yet it does not.

Well, actually it might seem far-fetched to think we could find “proof” of the first couple, but you also might be interested to know that research indicates that modern humans can be traced back to a single location while mitochondrial DNA analysis points to a single woman as its source. I guess the fact that the science community nicknamed her “mitochondrial Eve” is just coincidence. {Sources: Linda Vigilant et al, “African Populations and the Evolution of Human Mitochondrial DNA,” Science 253 (1991); M. Hasegawa and S. Horai, “Time of the Deepest Root for Polymorphism in Human Mitochondrial DNAs,” Journal of Molecular Evolution …There are more but I’m running out of space.}

Geology could have pointed to a single creation event. Yet it does not.

Well, actually that is kind of silly. Scientists who are looking at the “single creation event” are astronomers and cosmologists, not geologists. While geology might show traces of evidence for how the Earth formed and for what has happened to it since, it won’t really tell us much about the “single creation event.” For that, see Einstein, Hubble etc. Or, are you suggesting (like many young earth creationists) that the Earth was created before the Sun and the galaxy in which we reside? 🙂

Topography could have pointed to a global flood. Yet it does not.

I agree. That’s why I don’t accept the idea of a global flood (defined as one that covered the entire earth). Go here for my explanation: The Extent of Noah’s Flood

Radioactive dating could have shown a uniform age of sedimentation. Yet it does not.

Once again, I agree! See how similar we are?! But that does nothing to undermine the case for a Creator. It only goes to undermine the case for young earth creationism which, I think you would agree, is nonsense.

Physiology could have shown distinct and separate ancestry. Yet it does not.

Well, actually that is not true either. Recent studies of human DNA distribution (2002) compared 377 DNA regions for 1,056 individuals from 52 different population groups and found 93-95% of all genetic variation occurs within all populations and only 3-5% of genetic variability occurs between populations. In other words the human genetic unity is very unusual. {Source: Noah A. Rosenberg et al., “Genetic Structure of Human Populations,” Science 298 (2002)

Astronomy could have shown our solar uniqueness. Yet it does not.

Apparently you unfamiliar with (non-Christians) Ward and Brownlee’s, Rare Earth. No time to go into it here but you can read the book which makes exactly the opposite point of your assertion here. Though you probably reject it without consideration, there is also Richards and Gonzalez’s, The Privileged Planet, which deals with similar information and also shows how that information is perfectly consistent with the Christian view of reality.

Physics could have shown exemptions were possible from natural laws. Yet it does not. Chemistry could have shown us cellular rejuvenation through intercessory prayer. Yet it does not.

So, like many materialists, you seem to believe that science can disprove miracles. The glaring problem in that assumption is that it makes a colossal and inappropriate category error. In what alternate universe do you think science (the study of the material world) could prove or disprove miracles (which are, by definition, not material)?

Over and over again, your attempt to deny reality comes back to bite you. Over and over again you fail to see the myopic view you (along with Bill Nye, “The Science Guy”) are attempting to defend has glaring holes in it that you refuse to acknowledge. Hopefully, you have something to think about now …  if you’re honest with yourself that is …

————————

As you can see, there are perfectly valid, reasonable and rational explanations for each of the phenomenon tildeb claims are non-existent. He doesn’t have to accept them, but that does nothing to undermine their validity. Tildeb (and others like him) can continue to ignore these explanations and thereby remain intellectually dishonest in their claims that they don’t exist.

I prefer to engage the best arguments of my opponents, not ignore them and I will let the reader decide if their blindness is of the willful or ignorant persuasion.

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15 thoughts on “None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

  1. Tildeb (and others like him) can continue to ignore these explanations and thereby remain intellectually dishonest in their claims that they don't exist.

    Ignore the explanations? What explanations? A global conspiracy of scientists? That is your explanation? Vaccines come from a conspiracy? Genetic therapies comes from a conspiracy? Crop sciences come from a conspiracy? If groupthink produces valuable knowledge, new avenues of research, and practical applications that works for everyone everywhere all the time, then let us honestly compare and contrast this 'explanation' with what has come from creation 'science'…

    That silence you hear speaks louder than your beliefs.

    I cannot in good conscience ignore the charge of intellectual dishonesty because I do not specifically address your carefully selected yet inadequate counter points (while you effortlessly wave your intellectual hand and ignore the meat not just of each of the mutually supportive areas I mentioned but the remarkable fact that, taken together, the compendium of evidence is overwhelmingly silent about some supposed creation event compared to the mountainous evidence for evolution).

    Where is the equivalent evidence – or, for that matter, any physical evidence FOR creation from a divine intervenor? Where is the alternative evidence-based explanation to how life has come to be?

    I'll wait….

  2. Ha! Yeah, tildeb, I think it's a global conspiracy. 🙂 How on earth could you possibly deduce that I think such a thing?! Wait, maybe it's religion that is the real conspiracy?! All us crazy religious people are conspiring to undermine science, and vaccines, and genetic therapies (wait, I wasn't supposed to admit that publicly!)

    Apparently you really are more ignorant of the claims of Intelligent Design than I knew. Maybe you aren't aware that there is a difference between operational science and forensic science. Everything you listed is operational science and not a single example you cite has any bearing on origins or metaphysical reality. Neither would any of the things you cite be hindered by belief in God.

    Please tell me how it could, even in principle, make a difference in the things you mention if God did actually exist or if the scientists who achieved those accomplishments believed He existed? Please tell me how any of those things is evidence against the action of an Intelligent Designer to have acted in the world?

    I'll wait …

  3. As you can see, there are perfectly valid, reasonable and rational explanations for each of the phenomenon tildeb claims are non-existent.

    Absolute rubbish.

    The correct answer to abiogenesis is "I don't know and you don't, either." Evolutionary theory is silent on the subject yet you presume to tell it (and us) that it MUST answer this question or you are free to insert any god-of-the-gaps creationist belief you want.

    That's not how science works, Bob, and you know it… if you are going to be intellectually honest.

    Genetics shows definitively that there is unequivocal evidence that the story of Adam and Eve is not historically valid (you can pretend this fact doesn't directly undermine the need for a literal resurrection by Jesus if you want but I – and perhaps others – might find that a bit… worrying for christian theology in particular). Your nod to a mitochondrial Eve does nothing to support a creation event. It's not an equivalent 'explanation' at all but a way of saying, "Hey, look over there!"

    Geology is about rocks and if the world had been created in a single event, then the primary bedrock should be the same age. It's not. This is not a silly point whatsoever when we use this understanding of how rocks are formed and age to produce knowledge for our multi-billion dollar mining industry, and rely on it for the pinpoint accuracy for today's submarine navigation systems. My explanation is borne out not by me and a few hundred thousand conspiratorial scientists suffering from groupthink but captains of industry, the mining jobs of millions of workers, and the safety of submarine crews (and accuracy of its various weapons systems). Your 'explanation' is…

    ?

    Right… you throw around some recognizable names as if they agree that geology doesn't really play much part in producing consistent and reliable evidence contrary to a creation event when in reality, any honest person would admit geology alone makes a very compelling case for no global creation event; instead, we find (literally) mountain ranges of evidence for natural geological evolution over 4.5 billion years.

  4. You are listing creationist talking points straight out of the Discover Institute's handbook… talking points seriously debunked over and over again by scientific communicators far more eloquent and erudite than I. For example, you introduce us to the creationist talking point of 'operational' versus 'forensic' science… as if this has some meaningful contribution to make. It doesn't because it's a red herring. All the evidence for evolution stands testament to the absence of all evidence ever accumulated that is supposed to inform the explanation of creation. Creationism – and its pseudo-twin Intelligent Design – (also well known to those of us deeply familiar with the dishonest tactics from the Discover Institute as "cdesign proponentsists") comes from only one source: religious belief in some kind of POOF!ism. That's why you sometimes find religion without creationism but you never find creationism without religion.

    What's really at issue here is not different kinds of science as you – supported by creationist outfits like the Discoveroids of the Discotute and their brothers-in-faith at ICR – would try to have us believe, but of the single method of science itself. I have absolutely no doubt that if any of the fields I mentioned actually offered even the slightest evidence you so desperately seek, you would shout it from the rooftops that science – not operational or forensic science – supported your a priori creationist assumptions.

    But lacking that, creationists must take a different tack and try to explain why science – rather than the absence of evidence – isn't up to the task set before it by the a priori religious conclusions of creationism. So we are subject to this absurdity known as 'operational' versus 'forensic' science gambit because it sort of sounds sciency and diverts us from the lack of evidence for the assumed religious conclusions for creationism.

    (end of part 1)

  5. (part 2)

    The problem here is that ALL science uses the same method. It's called methodological naturalism and it works to produce reliable knowledge. When we apply the method to the creationist hypothesis, we find… nothing to support it except more religious belief (usually presented as metaphysical arguments). Creationism is still a legitimate scientific hypothesis even if it is shown to be empty of any supportive evidence regardless of what advocates of Intelligent Design would have you believe about kinds of scientific conclusions. No matter what creationisty/Iders actually see, they claim design with no method to test this assertion. So along comes all these silly and amateur tacks to try to slide goddidit – or ID if you prefer the switch in names – wherever our knowledge is thinnest. And whenever knowledge increases, creationism retreats… every… single… time. There is a very sound explanation why ID proponents have produced zero knowledge over the past 25 years since they introduced the to get creationism back into the science classroom: just like the religious belief in creationism/POOF!ism it really is, ID has a broken epistemology, meaning a method of inquiry that doesn't work to produce knowledge. All it does is switch the name 'God' with 'The Designer' and reliably produces the identical knowledge about the reality we share: zero.

    So I find it ironic that I introduce all these fields of inquiry that could have produced evidence for a creation event (but didn't) – evidence that could have made the god/designer hypothesis at least feasible – and you sail right past that compilation of ways and means to support creationism and assume I demand unreasonable evidence against this God/Designer!

    I – like any reasonable person – want evidence FOR a claim. You make the claim that what Nye tells us about evolution is dubious and I say he's telling it like it is because the explanation he uses is the one backed up by ALL the evidence. The burden of proof rests with creationists/IDers to show – using the method of science that we know works for everyone everywhere all the time – why the god/designer hypothesis does the better job explaining the evidence we have accumulated. The problem is as always: goddidit explains nothing.

  6. tildeb … Beside the minor detail that you completely ignored the fact that all your talking points have no bearing on the issues I described in my last comment response …

    You really don't do your side any favors when you repeat the meme about "Discovery Institute talking points." What difference does it make who makes the claim? We (those of us who are intellectually honest) don't discount points because of where they originated. We assess them based on their evidence … which you continue to refuse to do.

    The simple fact is that there is a vast difference between science that is conducted to produce therapies etc. and science that is done to infer causes about phenomenon we cannot recreate. That you are incapable of understanding that difference does not require me to teach it to you on a blog page.

    By the way, the fact that you in any way attempt to compare the work of the Discovery Institute with the Institute for Creation Research, not only proves you have never actually read anything tht either of them has produced, but that you are completely ignorant as to what they are attempting to defend.

  7. If you continue to refuse to read what I actually write, this conversation isn't going to get very far …

    I never said — or implied — or — thought — that you, or anyone else, should be forced to make evolutionary science speak to the subject of abiogenesis. What I said was that the worldview that employs Darwinism to account for the "purposeless-processes-didit" origin of life cannot be let off the hook and allowed to punt on the origin of life. The worldview you're defending can't do that. Mine can.

    For that reason, I'm not sure why you would think your science-of-the-gaps argument is superior to the reasonable inferences of mine … accept that you rule it out in advance … which is an intellectually dishonest thing to do.

    Finally, you invoke geology and genetics to disparage my points … and thereby prove you are absolutely ignorant about what thinking theists say. Apparently, you are content to scan the ICR and AiG websites (or listen to their spokesmen) and believe yourself to be informed about the views of "creationists." That's OK, many Christians are on the same bandwagon you're riding on.

    I really don't have the time to explain it to you, but God's creating the universe is not incompatible with geological "evolution." While many (at ICR and AiG) believe Uniformitarianism and Catastrophism are mutually exclusive, I don't. Your point there is irrelevant.

    Finally, The fact that you attempt to link genetic and/or Mitochondrial DNA evidence (which you obviously are unfamiliar with) to the resurrection of Christ is not only illogical, it's kind of bizarre. How in the world do you think those two subjects are related?

    But, since you brought it up (and for the record), if someone were to produce evidence that disproved the Resurrection, I would reject Christianity tomorrow.

    Are you intellectually honest enough to admit a similar defeater for your Naturalistic religion?

  8. Let's back up and take a single point I originally made:

    Genetics could have pointed to a single founding couple. Yet it does not.

    Is this fact in any way 'explained' by you?

    No.

    You say Well, actually it might seem far-fetched to think we could find “proof” of the first couple…

    No. It's mot far-fetched at all. The genetic evidence is unequivocal: there is no founding couple. Period. End of story. There could have been genetic evidence FOR a founding couple. But there isn't. The evidence is very clear: mitochondrial Eve has to wait about 50,000 years for chromosomal Adam to show up. Your 'explanation' avoids this key genetic finding. This is why I said there is no evidence for a founding couple. You have failed to address this decidedly uncomfortable fact.

    You then continue with …but you also might be interested to know that research indicates that modern humans can be traced back to a single location while mitochondrial DNA analysis points to a single woman as its source. Yes, and we call that person mitochondrial Eve. That is what the genetic evidence clearly shows. But how does this alter in any way, shape, or form my point: Genetics could have pointed to a single founding couple. Yet it does not.

    My point stands. And it also possesses a very important historical reality: there never was a founding couple. This means the story of Adam and Eve is just that. Yet one of the central tenets of christianity depends on an historical first couple. After all, humanity does not posses a metaphorical fallen nature, now does it? We supposedly posses an historical fallen nature that we have supposedly inherited not from a story but from an historical founding couple that doesn't genetically exist! This has ramifications to your theology. If you continue to believe we descend from an historical couple who were created by god, then this belief stands CONTRARY to the genetic information we use in therapies, technologies, and applications that work for everyone everywhere all the time. This is what belief in an historic founding couple MEANS: a rejection of science in the field of genetics.

    But this raises my second point: to reject science in the field of genetics MEANS a rejection of exactly the same scientific METHOD used to create the therapies, technologies, and applications you use to variously power your cell phone and computer and internal combustion engine and medication and GPS and microwave and coffee maker and the other thousands of useful and practical results derived fully from the same method you reject in the name of your religious belief in this one field.

    But creationists don't stop with this one field. They reject the method of science in all kinds of fields not because there's anything demonstrably wrong with the knowledge created but because it interferes with a particular religious belief. That's the sum total 'argument' in favour of creationism: religious belief that stands in conflict with particular knowledge derived from the scientific method. And the scientific method simply relates reality as it is. That reality doesn't provide the evidence that should be there if creationism were true is not my problem. It's a problem that creationists have yet to 'explain' other than with the old standby: goddidit… an equivalent explanation used by Intelligent Design advocates under the term 'aDesignerdidit'. What's lacking, however, remains the same: no evidence where there should be evidence if the claim were true.

  9. tildeb,
    I gave you links to secular research studies that confirm the claims about "Mitochondrial Eve" that I made. You ignored them. I have more but precedent tells me that you will ignore those too. Your response to source material for the claims I made about mitochondrial Eve is to say, "Nuh uh."

    And then you accuse me of not dealing with scientific facts.

    Yes, Adam and Eve have to be historically real persons. Sadly, many Christians who claim Genesis as allegory fail to understand this basic fact. But there are many assumptions about genetics, and error bars in the genetic trail, that, as one who holds such reverence for science, I would think you would understand enough to realize that there is little hope of us being able to identify the specific couple in question beyond our recognition of an extremely small population size.

    What you also fail to realize is that under the view I hold, the genetic trail for mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam do not end in the same place. When all humanity was destroyed during the Flood of Noah, the only survivors would have been the 8 people aboard the ark. The genetic tree of the women went all the way back to Eve. The genetic tree of Adam would stop with Noah and his sons. Therefore, on my view (which is NOT that of a young earth creationist), the actual data suggests Eve's lineage as being many thousands of years older than Adam's and this makes perfect sense.

    It also makes your point about how my view "rejects the science field of genetics" out to be completely baseless … again.

  10. Hilarious. So funny. Maybe this guy and Bill Nye could could connect to become "the science guys" since their credentials and sense of humor are similarly aligned.

    Actually, the funniest part is that about how the chemicals sat around for billions of years and then "formed single cell organisms." Now that's funny.

    Since even single-celled organisms are incomprehensibly complex, this means that those chemical compounds just mixed themselves around and "the magic process" suddenly made them complex, self-replicating, living, metabolizing organisms.

    Poof … Nothingdidit!

    By the way, I don't resort to nonsense like this to mock other people. When I watch or recommend a video, it's usually something more along these lines … one that deals with intellectually sophisticated consideration of the actual arguments:

    William Lane Craig – Sam Harris Debate

    This is just a short segment, but you can go find the whole debate on YouTube.

  11. Also, tildeb, still waiting for the answer to this that I posed earlier (and you completely ignored … again)

    Please tell me how it could, even in principle, make a difference in the things you mention if God did actually exist or if the scientists who achieved those accomplishments believed He existed? Please tell me how any of those things is evidence against the action of an Intelligent Designer to have acted in the world?

  12. Ah yes: Sophisticated Theology Tm!

    Craig is famous for pulling out this resurrected argument from its philosophical grave called the Ontological Argument. He uses it again in this 'debate' with Harris:

    1. God is the greatest being conceivable.

    2. One of the qualities of the greatest being conceivable is existence in reality, for something that exists is surely greater than something that does not exist.

    3. Ergo, God must exist.

    So what is the problem here, one Craig continues to ignore time after time after time, while pursuing his public status to be considered a champion of theodicy through debates?

    Well, Craig fails to clarify the fatal flaw in this argument – one well established centuries ago by theologians!: "existence" is not part of the definition of any entity (i.e., existence is not a "predicate"), but after an entity is defined, then once can go out and see if it does exist. Again, we're back to trying to find evidence for this interactive, intervening, creative critter in our reality called 'god' that seems incredibly elusive… so elusive, in fact, that it is dishonest for anyone to suggest that they have come to be a believer in this god by way of compiling compelling evidence first from reality (where local effects are attributed to this universal causal agent) and then concluding that god exists. Obviously – like Craig – a believer must first accept the conclusion of existence as if fact and then try to substantiate this assumption (we call religious faith) by selecting only that evidence from reality that best suits the belief without ever successfully dealing with contrary or absent evidences.

    You can prove the existence of anything with this approach Craig trots out here, conceiving of "the most perfect unicorn" or "the most perfect pizza", and then then adding existence as part of each entity's perfection. Ergo, we have a new horned flying horse and an ultimate great pizza by imaginative assertion alone! But that's what Sophisticated Theology Tm does: it is imaginative assertions writ large (with big words and all).

  13. Well, tildeb, when this thread began with Bill Nye's nonsense, your comments seemed reasonable and worth replying to. No so anymore. Your most recent comment here (about W.L. Craig) proves to me that you have not even begun to consider my responses — in fact, you don't even read them before you reply.

    I know this because the Craig video I linked to made absolutely no mention of the Ontological Argument you spouted off against above. Not a single word. It was about the Moral Argument, Sam Harris's completely illogical and nonsensical "moral landscape," and the rare philosophical "knock-down" argument he afforded Bill Craig to destroy Harris's point.

    This is a point I've made over and over again that you continue to pretend doesn't exist as you repeat the exact same lines you have used over and over and over again. Your worldview cannot even account for moral grounding (among MANY other things) and yet you believe we should take you seriously.

    You continue to chant your mantra as if repeating it enough times will make it true. It doesn't. And you have given me no reason to continue to let you keep saying the same thing while refusing to respond to counter examples.

    Maybe you can weigh in on future posts but on this one, you're finished.

    Cheers.

  14. (facepalm)

    *sigh*

    I understand Mitochondrial Eve, Bob. You don't. I don't have to go back and read these papers, Bob, because I do accept the for the good science they have produced. (From this you strangely think I'm saying "Nuh uh"… hence the sound you hear of me banging of my forehead on the table.)

    I accept these 'secular' studies (ain't no such beastie in science, Bob) for the genetic evidence they show in my DNA… and yours… about our common ancestry to this first person with this mutation. What you seem determined to ignore is that a Mitochondrial Eve does not a founding COUPLE make. Using the same scientific method that produced genetic evidence YOU QUOTE for Mitochondrial Eve you now reject to show Chromosomal Adam not appearing for another 50,000 years. In addition, the smallest human bottleneck is not a single couple but about 1200 to 12000.

    Why don't you see as clearly as I do how willing you are to take scientific knowledge for granted and even champion its bits that agree with your beliefs but then are just as willing to suddenly doubt its ability to reveal reality to us when it contrast with some religious notion you favour? Why can't you see that what you are doing each and every time is using you belief to arbitrate scientific findings?

    This is why you ignore the fact that there is no evidence for a global flood that reduced human population to 8. You are factually wrong here. If you are going to respect genetics as a field of human knowledge that currently works for everyone everywhere all the time, then you have no choice but to dismiss the religious beliefs you hold contrary to it. You can't hold both and lay the blame for conflict between them on me. I'm just pointing out the discrepancy you exercise.