Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

September 16, 2009

The Only Show On Earth: The Evidence for Creation

Filed under: books, humor, religion, science — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 10:26 am

John Crace produced a piece of satire of Richard Dawkins’ new book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.  The good professor complained in the comments that he thought it was off the mark.  Crace didn’t really capture Dawkin’s flavor.  So, I decided to give it a go.  I used an excerpt from “The Times” as the basis. It probably follows the original too closely, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to defend myself from charges of plagirism, but hopefully it hits the mark of a hypothetical bizarro-Dawkins, who I’ve named Dick Rowlings.

Quick, Hide the Children!  The Evolutionists are Coming!

An excerpt from The Only Show On Earth: The Evidence for Creation by Jesus’ Chaplain Dick Rowlings

Imagine that you are a Sunday School teacher eager to impart your knowledge of the Bible into young children. Now, the Bible is a very long book and it takes repetition, repetition and more repetition before those young ones will stop asking silly questions and just accept what they are being told. Yet you find your time continually preyed upon by a baying pack of mis-educated young children who insist that we share a common ancestor with all living creatures. Therefore there was no Adam and Eve as it is written in Genesis, and therefore there was no original sin.

Instead of devoting your full attention to explaining how God gave us rainbows as a sign that He would never flood the whole world again, you are forced to divert your time and energy to a rearguard defense of the propositions that God exists and the foundational doctrines of the church! A proposition that would make you weep like a statue of Mary if you weren’t so busy repeating: the Bible is true, because it is the word of God, because it says so!

Fashionably, liberal Christians chime in to insist that the story of the flood and creation are just allegory. Good thing they aren’t real Christians, because this is a slippery-slope. Once you accept the fact some of the Bible might not be true, you start questioning every part. It is no longer good enough to say the Bible is true, because it is the word of God, because it says so! You would need evidence independent of God’s word in order to decide the question, which is just silly because what better evidence could you have than God’s word?

The plight of many religious teachers is no less dire. When they attempt to impart the central and guiding principles of faith, they are harassed with unending questions and constantly admonished for their answers, as if God’s own words were not good enough. It is a sad state of affairs to have one’s time wasted with smirks and folded arms of obviously misdirected children. It is requires many discussions with the children’s parents before they will start to display the proper attitude (I find threatening to take away their Christmas presents to be particularly effective in adjusting children’s attitudes, Jesus is the reason for the season after all).

It is frequently, and correctly, said by many prominent scientists and engineers that science, in principle, has nothing to say about religion. Steven Jay Gould, an atheist and biologist, promoted “non-overlapping magisteria” which is another way of saying that science is a trade, and that is all it is, a trade. We can look at the scientists themselves for proof of this, always pointing out how studying E. Coli bacteria will allow us to create new drugs for fighting  drug resistant bacteria that spontaneously came into existence (I suspect this is part of God’s plan to keep the scientists employed.  Isn‘t He so thoughtful?).

Science may show us how to build a better mouse-trap, with the help of a little divine inspiration of course, but science tells us nothing about the universe we inhabit or helps us understand where we came from or where we are going. For that, we need the Bible. Thinking that science reveals any truth about the nature of our existence is “scientism” which is obviously a wrongheaded philosophy because it doesn’t accept the authority of the Bible, God‘s own words!

The Only Show on Earth is about the positive evidence for creation. The Bible already provides 100% certainty that we were specially created in God’s own image. But, I will provide additional evidence that makes us at least 1,000,000% sure.

We are like detectives who come on the scene after a crime has been committed. The murderer’s actions have vanished into the past. This is exactly why the only reliable evidence we will have is written eyewitness testimony of the being who was actually there: God. This is not intended as an anti-atheist book. I’ve done that, it’s another very tall hat and slightly different collar. Although, I’m happy to say “Those Deluded Atheists” has apparently become a little bit of an international best-seller with brisk sales in Turkey.

By the end of this book you will see that creation is an inescapable fact, and we should praise God’s astonishing power. Hallelujah! God created everything within us, around us, between us, and his works are present in the flowers, the clouds and especially rainbows (for more about rainbows see my book “God Gave Us Rainbows, The End.”) Given that, none of us were around when God created everything, we shall revisit the metaphor of the detective having to blindly rely on eyewitness testimony. We all know that there is no more reliable and trustworthy source of evidence than eyewitness testimony, but it is better than that. It is the eyewitness testimony of the most honest, intelligent, loving and interesting being you could possibly wish to meet, and someday, some of us will. I will also show how we can use this testimony to integrate other facts that some atheistic evolutionists claim refute creation such as, the similarities of DNA code that fall neatly into a family tree. Well thanks to the eyewitness testimony we know that this is actually proof of God reusing the same designs, isn‘t He so smart? Vestigial organs, we know these serve purposes in the body, such as the newly discovered ability of the appendix to help fight infection.  A truth real Christians knew before those scientists with their microscopes could figure it out.  Fossils?  The result of the flood. The list goes on and on. In short, you won’t put down this book doubting creation, because if you do, you are calling God a liar!

Did I say 1,000,000% certain? More like 10,000,000%.

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September 14, 2009

The Strange Case of Robert Wright

Filed under: culture, religion — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 9:36 am

Robert Wright is a journalist and co-founder of Bloggingheads.tv Bloggingheads.tv is a site that hosts webcam discussions between public intellectuals. Recently, there has been a minor exodus of science luminaries (Sean Carroll, Carl Zimmer, P.Z. Myers, Phil Plait) because Bloggingheads.tv hosted discussions with Paul Nelson, a young earth creationist, and Michael Behe, a proponent of Intelligent Design, which led to a falling out.

On an appearance on the Colbert Report, Wright refused to call himself an atheist, but also stated he didn’t believe in the “Abrahamic” faiths, or any claims of special revelation. He stated that he thought that there could be a larger moral purpose unfolding on earth.

On the Report, Wright was pitching his new book “The Evolution of God.” Jerry Coyne has a lengthy review in “The New Republic.” Wright has also written a response to the Coyne’s critique.

After I read the review I thought the book was merely wrong. After reading the response, it appears to be something worse, clouded. As Coyne puts it in the end of his review:

It is remarkable that a book called The Evolution of God can be so pusillanimous, so dodgy, about the question of whether or not there is a God. Surely the question of God’s existence is the fulcrum upon which any discussion of God must rest. If the entity in his book’s title does not exist, then his book is much, much less than it purports to be. But Wright is content with waffling, and with guarded speculation. When he finally comes to the big question–is there in fact a God who is pulling humanity toward morality?–he suddenly becomes humble and retiring.

But the most damning is Wrights own admission near the end of his response:

Well, (1) I’m only talking about progress along one dimension—a growing circle of moral inclusion, even across ethnic and national bounds, that is visible in most places across millennia, though not necessarily across decades or even centuries. This is the progress that Peter Singer documented in his book The Expanding Circle, that Steven Pinker has noted and theorized about, and that many other thinkers acknowledge as well.

What falsifiable claim is Wright making here? I can’t find one. Singer and Pinker explain moral progress as expanding the realm of moral consideration. For example, the difference between vegetarians and non-vegetarians usually revolves around whether non-human animals are worthy of moral consideration. For the militantly omnivorous, the answering is an absolute “no” which usually manifests itself in the form of “animals are tasty.” But what is Wright’s claim? Nationalism and ethnic prejudice are in decline?

One of the things that makes this claim so meaningless is the timescale. Wright demands that we have to look at it in terms of millennia. But the topic under discussion is “Abrahamic” faiths. So for Christianity we’d have two data points, Islam, even less. Judaism may give us several but it is not missionary, there is little to no focus on conversion.

Wright is conflating an empirical fact teleological purpose. There has been moral progress. This moral progress is manifestly due to expanding spheres of moral consideration. However, it is also historically contingent. That is, early Christianity represented a giant leap backwards. Polytheistic religions lend themselves to pluralism more easily than monotheistic ones do.

Wright seems to admit as much. From his response:

An ethical decline in the transition from polytheism to monotheism is contrary to my view? I encourage Professor Coyne to dip into chapters 6 and 7, “From Polytheism to Monolatry” and “From Monolatry to Monotheism.” The core argument is that ancient Israel moved from a polytheism that reflected a tolerant cosmopolitanism (sponsored by kings with internationalist foreign policies) to a monotheism that was, at its birth during the Babylonian exile, belligerent and retributive (and whose emergence had been abetted by highly nationalist kings, notably the brutally authoritarian Josiah). I expressly dismiss (p. 173) the view that monotheism was “morally universalistic from its birth,” saying, “a candid reading of exilic texts leads to a less heartwarming conclusion—that the universalism present at monotheism’s birth may not deserve the qualifier ‘moral.’” I add, “If you look at the earliest biblical texts that plainly declare the arrival of monotheism and you ask which of their various sentiments seems to most directly motivate that declaration, the answer would seem closer to hatred than to love, closer to retribution than to compassion. To the extent that we can tell, the one true God—the God of Jews, then of Christians, and then of Muslims—was originally a god of vengeance.”

Doesn’t that directly undermine his thesis? I don’t hold out any hope of Wright admitting this since it obviously didn’t occur to him when he wrote it. The truth is his thesis appears to be so nebulous that it can’t be meaningfully contradicted. It is surprising that people can apparently write over 500 pages of this kind of drivel. Although, I guess it should be more surprising that more people buy it. To paraphrase Mark Twain, it seems that books should accomplish something and arrive somewhere. When they fail to do so, they commit a literary offence.

Which brings us to another point, is it mere coincidence that Wright presents such muddled thinking in his book and his promotion of creationist garbage on Bloggingheads.tv? When you are not clear-thinking, does that have a pernicious effect on your acceptance of other wafflers? I think a stronger case could be made for this than anything Wright proffers in “The Evolution of God.”

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