left biblioblography: November 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Little Moral Molecule That Could...An Example Of The Blind Criticizing The Blind Watchmaker, So Where Do They End Up?

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!blind_watchmaker

So this has been on my mind for a few days:

Can a molecule be moral? Of course not, no more than a particle can be political. Or particular - ask any carbon molecule (it bonds to just about anything...almost promiscuously, one might say).

Herein lies the crux the religious folks have with evolution. It infers that besides having no guiding principle, since we are all particles, we can just bounce about doing as we please. The scarier intimation being, if these so-called 'good religious folk' were stripped of their fantasies, the streets would run crimson, and rapine and pillage would be common.

While in search of an appropriate image for this post, I stumbled across this bit of idiocy, and like the rest of you probably do, I managed the interesting feat of the stunned open-mouthed grin.

Hardwired Nonsense

Evolutionists claim that morality is a product of evolution. As we saw in yesterday’s article, Marc Hauser claims that “evolution hardwired us to know right from wrong.” How did evolution, which is not a person, place, or thing, know what is morally acceptable? Of course, “it” didn’t, since there is no such “thing” as “evolution.”

Lie #1: Evolution doesn't need to be a 'person, place or thing'.

Lie #2: Evolution is reality.

Evolution is the backbone of modern biology.

 For the sake of argument, let’s suppose, following Hauser, that evolution did hardwire moral clarity.

Holy crap, did this guy actually use the term 'moral clarity'? Are you kidding me? History shows that there's never been any such critter.

 Why is it morally acceptable for a lion to kill and eat a gazelle but it’s not morally acceptable for a human to kill and eat another human being?

It's not acceptable for any species to prey upon itself. Of course, I don't consider the actions of the Donner party to be immoral: it's not like they were planning a barbeque. "Hey, throw a little more Earl on the barbie!"

Forces, ideas, concepts don’t have the ability to “hardwire” anything. Hardware requires software that is designed. What’s true in the lesser case (software designed for an inanimate machine) is ultimately true in the greater case (the creation of human beings with the capacity to think and create analogically).

Wow, a completely inadequate grasp of human psychology. Rates right up there as some of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Any advertisers or marketing experts should be rolling on the floor right now. Ever heard of Pavlov? Skinner? Brainwashing? Hell, anyone acquainted with religion should know better than to babble this inanely.

 How did evolution figure this out? There’s a more fundamental question that is rarely asked. Looking back over billions of years, how does the evolutionist account for the idea of morality based on the spontaneous generation of the cosmos?

This is a reference to another stupid article here, where Gary Demar insists that evolution has to be a person to be able to figure this out - he's got teleology on the brain, this one. Further, the jury's still out on this 'spontaneous generation of the cosmos' nonsense - that is, if anyone can actually prove the existence of non-existence.

The question “How did life originate?” which interests all of us, is inseparably linked to the question “Where did the information come from?” Since the findings of James D. Watson . . . and Francis H. C. Crick, it was increasingly realized by contemporary researchers that the information residing in the cells is of crucial importance for the existence of life. Anybody who wants to make meaningful statements about the origin of life would be forced to explain how the information originated. All evolutionary views are fundamentally unable to answer this crucial question.

While abiogenesis is a semi-separate field of sorts, it doesn't invalidate evolution at all. In fact, this is somewhere between a non sequitur and a false dichotomy. Again, religious people think that attacking the source has some sort of validity.

Consider the computer. Not only must all the physical parts work flawlessly—parts which were designed and manufactured by people with minds and hands—the programming necessary to run the parts also must function without error. No one would ever propose that the computer evolved spontaneously or that the programming appeared out of thin air and found its way into the computer’s internal parts without some form of outside design and directive to operate the machinery in a specific way.

And of course, the non sequiturs keep on flowing. Comparing a machine to a biological unit is indeed apples to oranges. Machines don't grow. They have no offspring. A computer isn't born as a Commodore 64, and grows up to be a Cray Supercomputer.

Here's this idiocy...again.

In an article titled “The God Debate” that appears in the April 9, 2007 issue of Newsweek, atheist Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, dialogs with Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddle Church, over the existence of God. Here’s how one series of exchanges went after Warren said that he believed in the biblical account of creation:

HARRIS: I’m doing my Ph.D. in neuroscience; I’m very close to the literature on evolutionary biology. And the basic point is that evolution by natural selection is random genetic mutation over millions of years in the context of environmental pressures that selects for fitness.

WARREN: Who’s doing the selecting?

HARRIS: The environment. You don’t have to invoke an intelligent designer to explain the complexity we see.

WARREN: Sam makes all kinds of assertions based on his presuppositions. . . .

Warren did a great job in asking the question “Who’s doing the selecting?” It’s unfortunate that he did not press Harris after he answered “the environment.” Warren asked “who,” and Harris answered with a “what.” How did the environment get here? Does it have a mind? Why is it always imbued with personality?

That 'God Debate' thing obviously settled nothing. The atheists cheered for Harris, the theists cheered for Rick 'I got a brain disease' Warren - it's idiotic. The answer wasn't a 'who' (His Holiness Hears A Who - the latest in children's books from Dr. Zeus), because there isn't a who. No, the environment doesn't have a mind. No, it's not 'imbued with personality'. Personify much?

These evolution articles remind me of a Danny Shanahan cartoon that appeared in the June 14, 1999 issue of The New Yorker. A Pterodactyl is perched on a limb talking into a tape recorder. The caption reads: “Memo to self: ‘Feathers?’” In his attempt to be humorous, Shanahan points out a fundamental flaw in the theory of evolution. There needs to be some personal intelligence behind the process. How did reptiles conceptualize the need for feathers? Of course, they didn’t. They couldn’t. Harris claims that it was “environmental pressure” that caused favorable evolutionary results to take place, including morality. The problem is evident: How does he know this? He doesn’t.

It's a lame effort. No, there doesn't need to be a personal intelligence behind the process. Further, there isn't. We're hardwired for a lot of items, some of them anachronisms. We're constructed originally to move about on all fours: we became bipedal, and ended up with back problems. We have unnecessary teeth, vestigial organs, and if we were to judge how much the 'intelligent designer' loves us, well, it likes squid better because their eyes are better constructed, and it loves dolphins better, because they breathe and eat through separate holes. The Heimlich maneuver escapes another species altogether.

I can break down all the poor engineering flaws in our bodies, but this is supposed to be a short post, not a novel-length criticism.

So the nutshell analysis, Mr. DeMar, is this:

  1. Either your watchmaker is a retard, OR
  2. your watchmaker is blind.

Really, it seems as if religion is an excuse for lazy people not to think at all.

While this was an eye-roller, it's been fun.

Till the next post, then.



Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gazing Into The Abyss...

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!imaginenoheaven

"If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

The elections are over, I'm back from my trip to China. I'm thoroughly pissed off that proposition 8 went through. I'll be ranting on this soon enough, but I have some other item I wish to share.

Recently, not only have I had a death in my family, but I've had some pretty close shaves myself. I was in the hospital about a month ago, for a procedure called a stent. I was experiencing shortness of breath, needle-like pains in the heart, dizziness, and the sense of impending doom. While some of you might be getting wide-eyed at that, I've been experiencing these issues for about a year. The doctors can't give me a fix on it. Still can't: I was told it was possibly a myocardial infarction, but the heart specialist turned out to be wrong.

I can field most of this fairly well, but the pounding of one's pulses in the eardrums as well as the sense of impending doom are sensations I can do well without.

And this last Monday, I came down with a very bad case of food poisoning, so much so that walking across a room for a few feet left me weak as a kitten. I had to lay over in Shiyan as the rest of my tour group went on to Xi'an, and I took a sleeper train over to join them the next day. Not an experience I want to have again.

And contrary to the popular stereotype ('no atheists in foxholes' horse manure, you know the drill), I didn't collapse to my knees begging for life. Nor did I weep bloody execrations to the skies above. I saved my breath and my energy, and survived without 'divine intervention'. Like most fancy themselves, I am made of sterner stuff.

Do I ever question my position on the afterlife? Of course I do: uncertainty shrouds this cloak of flesh we wear, always. Questioning everything is the way of the logical being.

If perhaps I were a weaker individual, I would draw solace from the superstitions of the past. Imagine some external force comforting me, filling me with life, power, survival. What a nice comic book sensation that would be.

But alas, no such luck. No hand was laid on me from on high. No ghost whispered 'Strive! Survive! Fulfill your destiny!' in my ear. No visions, visual or otherwise. Just fevered sweat, gushing liquids and the scrabbling mendacity to march forwards.

But I am here, that was another country, and besides, no wench is dead. (A no-prize to the reader that gets that esoteric reference!)

Life is good while I still have it. While I'm not afraid of that void that claims all, I'm in no rush to meet it headlong.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

I Am Returned - Bearing Gifts And Tales Of The Far East...

I got back on Wednesday, and have pretty much sorted my light cycle out (those of you who have flown through that black expanse known as the International Time Line will know what I mean).
It was quite the little adventure. The people were wonderful (the Chinese have a big thing about hospitality, and they get tickled pink when you fumble with their language), the food was awesome (I keep hoping to lose weight on these treks - not yet), and I managed to bring home 2 bronze medals for the USA.
On the flip side, the pollution gave me serious problems, I contracted a minor bout of food poisoning (which I bounced back from pretty well, but for a little bit there, thought I was gonna die), and after being on a sleeper train, I wanted to burn my shoes.
I went to some opening ceremonies. At one, in a stadium, my team and I marched in (along with teams from several other countries) to the shrieks and adulation of a huge adoring crowd. Humble I may be, I could get used to THAT toot sweet. Wow!
Just a blurb for now. Perchance I'll share more at a later date.