Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

UK Telegraph on Richard Dawkins’ cowardly refusal to debate William Lane Craig

Will Richard Dawkins debate William Lane Craig?

Will Richard Dawkins debate William Lane Craig?

(Image stolen from Glenn Peoples)

Cowardly Richard Dawkins refuses to debate William Lane Craig on this latest UK tour. (H/T Mary)

Excerpt:

Richard Dawkins has made his name as the scourge of organised religion who branded the Roman Catholic Church “evil” and once called the Pope “a leering old villain in a frock”.

But he now stands accused of “cowardice” after refusing four invitations to debate the existence of God with a renowned Christian philosopher.

A war of words has broken out between the best selling author of The God Delusion, and his critics, who see his refusal to take on the American academic, William Lane Craig, as a “glaring” failure and a sign that he may be losing his nerve.

Prof Dawkins maintains that Prof Craig is not a figure worthy of his attention and has reportedly said that such a contest would “look good” on his opponent’s CV but not on his own.

An emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, Prof Dawkins last year supported a plan to charge Pope Benedict XVI with crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in the cover-up of sex abuse by Catholic priests.

Prof Craig is a research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, in California, and the author of 30 books and hundreds of scholarly articles on Christianity.

He has debated with leading thinkers including Daniel Dennett, A.C.Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and Sam Harris.

Prof Craig is due to visit Britain in October this year. Four invitations to take part in public debates were sent to Prof Dawkins from The British Humanist Association, The Cambridge Debating Union, the Oxford Christian Union and Premier Radio.

Prof Dawkins declined them all.

[...]Some of Prof Dawkins’s contemporaries are not impressed. Dr Daniel Came, a philosophy lecturer and fellow atheist, from Worcester College, Oxford, wrote to him urging him to reconsider his refusal to debate the existence of God with Prof Craig.

In a letter to Prof Dawkins, Dr Came said: “The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part.

“I notice that, by contrast, you are happy to discuss theological matters with television and radio presenters and other intellectual heavyweights like Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and Pastor Keenan Roberts of the Colorado Hell House.”

Prof Craig, however, remains willing to debate with Prof Dawkins. “I am keeping the opportunity open for him to change his mind and debate with me in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford” in October, he said.

Read it all. And please forward this to EVERYONE you know.

Dawkins mentions that he “already debated Craig” in that lame, worthless Mexico event where all the speakers got 2 minutes for their speeches, and one minute rebuttals. That was not a formal academic debate, that was a spectacle. I want a formal debate so Craig can put this blowhard in his place like he did with Hitchens, Harris, and Dennett. I want this nonsense about atheism being a  rational, moral worldview to end NOW. And by now, I mean yesterday.

Why won’t Dawkins debate Craig?

Let’s re-cap Dawkins’ reasons in point form: (with my comments in parentheses)

  • Dawkins claims that he is willing to debate high-ranking clergymen (but Craig is a scholar, not a clergyman)
  • Dawkins claims that Craig is a creationist (but Craig supports his kalam cosmological argument with the Big Bang)
  • Dawkins claims that Craig’s only claim to fame is that he is a professional debater (but see Craig’s CV and publications below, which is far more prestigious than Dawkins)
  • Dawkins claims that he’s too busy (busy cowering in fear hugging his Darwin doll for comfort)

Let’s review William Lane Craig’s qualifications:

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

Dr. Craig pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984). From 1980-86 he taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity… In 1987 they moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Dr. Craig pursued research at the University of Louvain until assuming his position at Talbot in 1994.

He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument; Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus; Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom; Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of Philosophy, New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.

Craig’s CV is here.

Craig’s list of publications is here.

Here are some of Craig’s most recent publications:

From 2007:

  • Ed. with Quentin Smith. Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity. Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2007, 302 pp.
  • “Theistic Critiques of Atheism.” In The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, pp. 69-85. Ed. M. Martin. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • “The Metaphysics of Special Relativity: Three Views.” In Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity, pp. 11-49. Ed. Wm. L. Craig and Quentin Smith. Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2007.
  • “Creation and Divine Action.” In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, pp. 318-28. Ed. Chad Meister and Paul Copan. London: Routledge, 2007.

From 2008:

  • God and Ethics: A Contemporary Debate. With Paul Kurtz. Ed. Nathan King and Robert Garcia. With responses by Louise Antony, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, John Hare, Donald Hubin, Stephen Layman, Mark Murphy, and Richard Swinburne. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
  • “Time, Eternity, and Eschatology.” In The Oxford Handbook on Eschatology, pp. 596-613. Ed. J. Walls. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

From 2009:

  • Ed. with J. P. Moreland. Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • “The Kalam Cosmological Argument.” With James Sinclair. In Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Ed. Wm. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • “In Defense of Theistic Arguments.” In The Future of Atheism: Alister McGrath and Daniel Dennett in Dialogue. Ed. Robert Stewart. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Forthcoming:

  • “The Cosmological Argument.” In Philosophy of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Issues. Ed. Paul Copan and Chad Meister. Cambridge: Blackwell.
  • “Cosmological Argument”; “Middle Knowledge.” In The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology. Ed. G. Fergusson et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • “Divine Eternity.” In Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology. Ed. Thomas Flint and Michael Rea. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richard Dawkins is eminently qualified to debate uninformed clergymen, but he has too much at stake (in terms of book royalties) to disappoint his loyal horde of foam-flecked fundies by debating a professional scholar who has debated hundreds of times, against the top non-Christian scholars, in hundreds of universities, including Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford.

The Craig-Hitchens debate

This debate was moderated by HUGH HEWITT, host of the nationally-syndicated Hugh Hewitt Show.

This is just an example of what these debates typically look like. No one gets hurt, so what is Dawkins afraid of?

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66 Responses

  1. noreligion says:

    Dawkins represents atheists? Really? You telling me that he represents me? If not, explain your statement since I am an atheist. If you claim he does represent me, why are you so arrogant you can contradict me when I say he is not representative of me? Anyway, it seems you have some confusion as to what atheism is. Would you care to define it?

    • People who “represent” atheism are those who are most known for being atheists, and those who write books opposing alternatives to atheism. That fits Richard Dawkins. Atheism is the belief that there is no Creator of the universe.

  2. Christianjr4 says:

    Thanks for pointing this article out. I would have never known about it had you not featured it on your blog.

    It’s about time Dawkins’ refusal to debate Craig get some serious attention now. People are finally starting to realize that he isn’t as big of a “horseman” as his minions love to think of him.

    • noreligion says:

      Minions? I want, how do I get some?

      • I have minions at work. You just hire new people and give them things to do. I have four minions. When you are the lead on a project, they give you minions. The largest number of minions I have ever had is five (at one time). However, when I was a camp counselor, I had about a dozen children I was responsible for. These were not minions, because they would not follow instructions. That is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a minion.

  3. noreligion says:

    So your still claiming that Dawkins represents me? That is pure unadulterated arrogance. Your definition of atheism is wrong. Best to find out what it is before you go off making foolish claims.

    • Atheism can be claimed in two ways. It can be a statement about a person – “I do not believe in God” or it can be an idea that is held by people – the idea that there is no God.

      Here’s Miriam-Webster to save the day:
      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism

      a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
      b : the doctrine that there is no deity

      In either case, it involves a claim about the world – namely, that there is no non-material agent who brought it into being. That’s what theism is – the belief in an agent who creates the universe.

      And of course, this is exactly what science tells us happened at the Big Bang, 14 billion years ago, when the physical universe, and time itself, began to exist. We call the cause of the event “God” because it was a non-physical force of immense power that created the entire universe out of nothing. God is a “who” because only agents can freely create effects in time without physical antecedent conditions. I.e. – if lighting struck my car, there would have to be antecedent physical conditions – a storm. However, at the creation of the universe, there was no physical conditions. You have something that can create effects independent of matter. And the only think we know that can cause effects without antecedent physical conditions is free agents, like human beings, who have free will. Unfortunately, there were no humans, or even aliens (in which I do not believe), around 14 billion years ago. So you’re talking about a conscience agent who brings the universe into being apart from any prior physical situation that would cause physical effects.

      • noreligion says:

        Wrong. Atheism is nothing more than a lack of theism. IOW, an atheist does not believe in theism. As far as anything else an atheist believes (or disbelieves), that is their personal choice. There is no “creed” for atheists which is what you appear to think. Now please answer the question, are you claiming Dawkins represents me even though I say he doesn’t? If you are, that is pure unadulterated arrogance. If you claim he doesn’t represent me, then either your original claim is incorrect (about him representing atheists) or you must be claiming I am not an atheist (which is once again arrogant).

        • Do you KNOW whether there is a being called God or not who created the universe? I am asking you if you know. Do you know? It’s a yes or no question.

          • noreligion says:

            I will answer your question when you first answer mine and you then define god. No please answer, does Dawkins represent me? Yes or no.

          • Not you personally, but just the idea of atheism. In the same way that Ronald Reagan represents “peace through strength” and Ayn Rand represents capitalism and Jeremey Bentham represents utilitarianism.

  4. noreligion says:

    So Dawkins represents and idea of atheism just the same as Jesus represents the idea of Christianity? Hmm, nice picture…Dawkins riding into Jerusalem on an ass :)

    You didn’t define god. I’m waiting for your specific definition so I can answer your question.

    • Yes I did! I said that God is a non-material person who creates the universe out of nothing.

      Here’s Mirriam Webster again:

      a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshiped as creator and ruler of the universe

  5. noreligion says:

    You said being. A being is material. This is the first time you are calling it a person so now you are adding an additional quality. Now define god more specifically, is it the Judaeo-Christian god (which means all of it;s attributes) or is it the deist god of Jefferson? Is it a god that stepped away after creation or is it a personal god that interacts with the universe? Is it supernatural or natural? Is it outside of spacetime or within the universe? Be specific.

    • Nope, no more answers. No more comments unless you tell me yes or no. Do you know whether there is a non-material personal agent who created the universe out of nothing?

      If you need to know what I mean by God, here is a nice peer-reviewed publication from an astrophysics journal that lays out the argument I made above in more detail:

      http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/the-kalam-cosmological-argument-defended-in-a-peer-reviewed-science-journal/

      Read it, it makes very clear what people mean by God, and provides a simple argument for God’s existence from the progress of science in the last 100 years.

      • noreligion says:

        Unless you define in specific what god you are asking about, I can’t answer. If you want to use the definition from Miriam Webster, that would apply equally well to Thor, Allah, Zeus, Yahweh, Mithras, Ianna, etc.. Those and any other supernatural deity I will answer that I don’t believe in but that wasn’t your question. Now unless you are willing to define the god you are asking about (more specifically than you have), go right ahead and delete my comments if you want.

        • OK just for those following along, this is why I have a bad reputation on the Internet for being mean to atheists. They come on the blog, leave comments like those above, refuse to answer questions, and then complain that I am censoring them.

          Here’s why he won’t answer the question:

          If he says he doesn’t know whether there is a being who created the universe, then he is an agnostic, not an atheist.
          If he says he does know whether there is a being who created the universe, and the answer is no, then he is an atheist.

          As soon as he admits that he knows, and the answer is NO, then we can ask him for reasons why he knows there is no such being. He doesn’t have those reasons, so that’s why he won’t answer.

          For my part, I produced one argument for God’s existence above, and I can give plenty more arguments in rapid fire succession, from things like cosmic fine-tuning, origin of life, fossil record, habitability requirements, consciousness, free will, molecular machines, objective morality, etc., all referencing peer-reviewed literature. I know what I believe and why. And I am prepared and willing to answer direct questions about what I believe and why.

          • Francine says:

            WK, playing DA for moment here (and I guess it’s appropriate given the subject matter of the post), I’m curious how you would respond to Dawkin’s sliding scale of atheism to theism? I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but here’s the understanding I’ve been given. He basically takes this theism versus atheism versus agnosticism question and argues the semantics.
            He takes a sliding scale defining 1 as “I *know* there is no God”. 5 as “I *know* there is a personal God”. 2 and 4 are “I am highly inclined to believe based off of the evidence I have…” and 3 is “I have no inclination one way or another.”
            He basically claims that there are many people that call themselves theists and the society would accept as theists that put themselves in category 4. So why shouldn’t someone in category 2 call themselves an atheist.
            Anyway, curious about your response.
            Thanks!

          • If a person has enough certainty to make a claim about the objective reality we all share, then we can debate that and assess that person’s evidence. If the person wants to lie down on a couch and explain to me their subjective tastes and personal preferences, then I want to be paid to for my psychoanalysis services. Either they know enough to make a claim and defend, or they don’t know. If they don’t know, and just want to emote, then I want to be paid for my time.

  6. Oh man. I just got a comment from someone calling himself AC Grayling. His words were kind of confused, so it might not have been the REAL AC Grayling.

    Anyway, he droned on and on about how Craig never uses any scientific evidence to support his arguments. I was going to approve the comment and explain to him how Craig’s premises are supported by scientific discoveries like the redshift, general relativity, the cosmic microwave background radiation, the helium-hydrogen abundances, and so forth, and maybe talk a little bit about how specific cosmological constants have to be finely-tuned to supply the minimum requirements for complex life like stable stars and elemental diversity. I wasn’t even going to mention the origin of life, or the Cambrian explosion, etc.

    I guess I was afraid that he would get angry and start threatening me with the wrath of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever it is that naturalists do when their religious delusions are threatened by experimental science. Who knows what happens to people’s minds when they shy away from debates and only listen to people who agree with them on everything? So I just marked it as spam.

  7. james says:

    Noreligion: I think Dawkins DEFINITELY represents you. You’re both bizarre and argumentative with nothing of real substance to say.

  8. Nick says:

    “As soon as he admits that he knows, and the answer is NO, then we can ask him for reasons why he knows there is no such being. He doesn’t have those reasons, so that’s why he won’t answer.”

    I’m not him, but I guess I fall into the category of ‘atheist’ (a meaningless term that shouldn’t exist, if you ask me) and I *do* have reasons for not believing. Namely, that there’s very poor evidence that a god actually exists (at least as defined conventionally).

    • Can you list some of the arguments made by scholarly theists in favor of the existence of God? Which of the arguments that scholars have made do you find unconvincing, and in which debates have you heard these arguments made?

      Just trying to see how much research you’ve done on the quality of evidence for theism. If you don’t reply, then we’ll know you haven’t done any research. That’s pretty normal around here… atheists make general statements about how poor the evidence for God is, because they actually have never read a single book or debate.

      • Nick says:

        Interesting that you chose “scholarly theists”. I was raised Catholic and when I asked my parents how we know God exists they never resorted to “scholarly theists”. They simply pointed to the Bible and, when questioned as to whether what’s in the Bible is true, replied “That’s what it means to have faith.” I suspect that’s how it is for a large majority of theists.

        That said, I’m familiar with the arguments from scripture, miracles, reason, design and DCT.

        • Your parents made a grave error in dismissing your honest questions that way.

          Here are the arguments being made today:
          http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/index-to-christian-posts/

          • Nick says:

            My parents weren’t being dismissive. That’s simply what they believed. Indeed I’d argue that’s the case for a large majority of practicing theists.

            Many of the arguments in your link seem to argue less for the notion of a “Christian God” as much as simply some kind, any kind, of creator. With respect to the latter I find the most compelling argument to be Bostrom’s Simulation Argument. Why don’t you include that argument in your list?

          • To get a specifically Christian God, you have to appeal to historical evidence, such the bodily resurrection of Jesus. To make the argument, you use the standard historical methods for determining reliable portions of an ancient document – multiple attestation, early attestation, enemy attestation, embarrassment to the authors, etc. From the whittled list of facts, you infer to the best explanation. And of course, this is discussed in formal debates.

            Here’s one of my favorites:

  9. JNorton says:

    The Christians of earlier generations may not have known about defending the faith because they did not have to do so. My grandparents were strong Christians but I am sure that they did not know half the things that today’s beginner apologist would know. But they knew the Bible and could quote it extensively. They knew doctrine.

    As for the atheist v. Christian discussion, Christians almost always make the same mistake at the beginning. The Christian accepts the role of a criminal being interrogated by the policeman instead of demanding that the atheist describe in equal detail what his worldview is. For example, I believe Genesis explains the origin of life; what does the atheist believe? Evolution? Then he must defend evolution with the same detail and vigor that he demands of the Christian. The argument must not be one-way.

  10. Michael says:

    In regards to a debate between Dawkins and Craig, I think two points should be kept in mind.

    1. If the debate were to be specifically on the existence of God (and this is a very big if, since there are many other topics Dawkins and Craig could debate), then, with all due respect to Dawkins, I do not think that such a debate would be particularly fair for both him in particular and atheism in general. From my understanding, debates on the existence of God primarily involve analytic philosophy. Would it really be fair for Dawkins, although an excellent evolutionary biologist, to be debating Craig, who is an excellent analytic philosopher, in a debate that mostly involves analytic philosophy? I am sure Dawkins would still bring up some good points, however without a rigorous background in analytic philosophy, would such a debate really be fair on both him in particular and atheism in general?

    To use an analogy, the English cricket team and the English rugby league team are both top sporting teams just as Craig and Dawkins are both top scholars. However, it would hardly be fair for the English rugby league team to play the English cricket team in a game of cricket, nor would it be fair for the English cricket team to play the English rugby league team in a game of rugby league. In the same way, it would hardly be fair on Dawkins, whose expertise is in evolutionary biology, to be debating Craig, whose expertise is in analytic philosophy, in a debate that primarily draws upon analytic philosophy. In saying this, I don’t wish to suggest that academic debates should be like sporting matches, however I do think that, at least as far as fairness is concerned, that the analogy between the English rugby league and English cricket teams is mostly useful.

    On the other hand, I guess one could make the argument that if Dawkins is making confident public pronouncements concerning the existence of God, then perhaps participating in a public debate on the topic may still be appropriate even if such a debate largely involves a discipline outside his area of expertise.

    2. What is the purpose of wanting such a debate? Do you want to watch such a debate to get an honest understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both Dr. Dawkins and Dr. Craig’s points of view? Or is it a case of Dawkins fans hoping to see Dawkins slam Craig in a debate or Craig fans hoping to see Craig slam Dawkins in a debate? Be honest.

    • Dawkins has debated John Lennox twice on the topic of God’s existence, and he has addressed the matter in his books.

    • Jamie B says:

      Michael,

      1) Dawkins is the most famous proponent of the non-existence of God in the world. He writes best-selling books claiming that God is a delusion. I don’t think it would be unreasonable for him to defend arguments for his view in a public debate, as he has done before. If his arguments are so good, could they not stand up to any form of rebuttal, including that of analytical philosophy?

      2) I admit, I want to see the most famous atheist in the world get his arguments torn to pieces by Craig. Not just for my own entertainment, but so that others can see how weak his arguments truly are.

      • Michael says:

        Jamie, while I think you brought up a good point in (1), I would like to respectfully comment on (2).

        Firstly, I think that, with all due respect, it is naïve to assume that Dawkins arguments would be torn to pieces by Craig. If indeed the debate were to be on the existence of God, or any other topic that primarily involves analytic philosophy (and we have to keep in mind that this is a big if – the debate could well be on a topic that draws more equally upon both Dawkins and Craig’s expertise) then, while it is true that Craig is an expert in analytic philosophy and Dawkins is not, that does not mean that Dawkins arguments would be torn to pieces. I still think Dawkins would bring up some good points and that it is a little presumptuous to assume that his arguments would be torn to pieces.

        Secondly, shouldn’t our reason for watching an academic debate be because we want to gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the participants arguments and points of view? Sure, it is probably safe to say that few, if any, would truly watch a debate between Dawkins and Craig without any degree of bias (intentional or unintended). However, if such a debate were to occur, shouldn’t we at least try and watch the debate with an unbiased open minded attitude? Shouldn’t we watch it as objectively as possible and focus on acquiring an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both Dr. Dawkins and Dr. Craig’s arguments and points of view?

    • Bob Morrison says:

      Michael, your analogy breaks down when you consider the positions which Dawkins takes. If a cricket player were to write a book on rugby (essentially what Dawkins has done) he had better be prepared to demonstrate his knowledge of rugby. A biologist can’t write a book claiming that belief in God is a delusion, then credibly refuse to debate the top defender of the opposite position.

  11. Sarah Bonner says:

    Dawkins is one of the few hate-able atheist figures that I know of.

    He’s responsible for giving accreditation to the generation of atheists whom call themselves New Atheists, or those who support its ideals but don’t really understand its agenda. No longer are there just ‘atheists’ who enjoy the pursuit of science and being a critic… now we have a generation of people who point the finger at Christianity (and other religions) as the world’s biggest and greatest problem, while all the while committing the same sort of atrocities that they claim Christians commit.

    Bigotry. Hatred. Small-mindedness. Intolerance. Arrogance. Thinking that your way is the only way, and that destruction of those who oppose you is the only answer.

    While there are plenty of atheists out there that give him the stink eye and recognize what he stands for, there are many, many more — mostly ignorant young people looking for any reason to bite Christians — who take up his cause, parrot his arguments, and think they’ve “won” some kind of mental battle by convincing themselves they’re better than everyone else.

    Sigh. :(

  12. Jerry says:

    I think he’s making the right choice. The problem with many in the religious circles is they’re used to (read: need) a central authority figure that tells them what to think. If Dawkin turns out to be a bad debater (even if is arguments are correct), then it appears as the argument is wrong instead of just Dawkins is not good at debating. I think this point is reinforced by your statement:

    “about atheism being a rational, moral worldview to end NOW. And by now, I mean yesterday.”

    As if one man, be it craig or dawkins, can end this debate. It’s a very christian view. Many recent studies have shown that many people only look for evidence that supports their world view and I strongly see that here.

    Out of curiosity, how does Craig respond to questions like why is it that all of humanity’s prophets only appeared in times when scientific investigation was impossible and that miracles have stopped once our scientific process evolved enough to closely investigate them? Anyone who claims to be the son of god today is considered crazy, but in a time of extreme ignorance and superstition, a man claiming to be the son of god gets revered?!? Is it because you don’t have to worry about the scrutiny of science investigating him? I know, we have books written by believers that prove it. Case closed! I often wonder what the world would be like if nuclear disaster struck and one of the only book series to remain was Harry Potter. We know there was a person named that – I saw him on t.v. I read a book with him in it. I bet the christian types of the future would worship him as a god since you would be able to find plenty of supporting material…

  13. JNorton says:

    You say that Christian types are just looking for something to believe-what about those who accept evolution? I would bet that the majority of those who accept Darwin’s theory do so because it is the “in thing”. I bet that the majority of evolutionists have no idea what the evidence for evolution is.

    The Harry Potter example doesn’t work. With the Bible, you have multiple authors over thousands of years referring to people and places that actually existed. You also have fulfilled prophecy. I haven’t read Harry Potter because I am a grownup, but I don’t think Harry called himself the Son of God.

    I think it is the evolutionists who are desperate for something to believe. Everything came from nothing through chance and time?

    • Sarah Bonner says:

      JNorton: “You say that Christian types are just looking for something to believe-what about those who accept evolution? I would bet that the majority of those who accept Darwin’s theory do so because it is the “in thing”. I bet that the majority of evolutionists have no idea what the evidence for evolution is.”

      I can’t nod enough at this. Most of the people who have tried to sit down and challenge me to some duel of wits over how I can rationalize a belief in a “flying spaghetti monster” can not really explain evolution outside of parroting what they learned in high school, or badly quoting some atheist writer like Dawkins. They say “It’s science!” Great, tell me what you know about that.

      • “They say “It’s science!” Great, tell me what you know about that.”

        LOL! I could not agree more.

      • JNorton says:

        I commend you for making them explain. We Christians must take the offensive and make the unbeliever realize that they don’t know what they believe.

    • Jerry says:

      You two are hilarious. I would bet a lot of money that you have no idea of how the computer your typing on works. And I’m not even talking about the complicated theory behind the OS but the bus, the registers, the fpga’s and their interaction between the gpu/cpu, yet not knowing the specifics doesn’t mean that you doubt computers work. So why would you expect non-evolutionary biologists to know the intricate details of a fairly complicated theory? Strawman anyone?

      So no, most people don’t believe in evolution because it’s the “in thing”, they believe in it because the scientific body believes in it and theology’s alternative offers no benefit to science. You can’t make predictions off of “god did it” – it offers no scientific nor predictive value, hence it will NEVER be used by the scientific community. If science can’t study it, can’t observe it, then what good is it? It’s a huge shortcoming in the religious thinking – you need to study how science works and “insert magic here” is not part of the that process.

      As for multiple authors over thousands of years – it’s a huge reason many don’t believe in the christian view. Anything more than a couple of years after the event it going to be twisted by memory and interpretation. The very fact that there is so little evidence remaining from that time has helped preserve that myth – it’s hard/impossible to verify anything.

      • Sarah Bonner says:

        “You two are hilarious. I would bet a lot of money that you have no idea of how the computer your typing on works.”

        Sarah Bonner has studied robotics, artificial life programming, software engineering, and has recently been dabbling in good old-fashioned pure electrical engineering.

        Next.

        “So why would you expect non-evolutionary biologists to know the intricate details of a fairly complicated theory? Strawman anyone?”

        So what you’re saying is, it’s okay to accept a truth about something regardless of the WHY or HOW so long as the explanation for it agrees with your own beliefs? Isn’t that EXACTLY the argument that evolutionists often try to pin against Christians — that we have ‘blind faith’ and can’t prove God, so we’re wrong?

        Most people DO believe in evolution because it’s the ‘in thing’. They do not want to learn the actual science behind it, but the fact remains is that it’s socially acceptable to be “logical” and “scientific” by supporting evolution; saying that you believe in fundamental creationism (read: I personally do not, I’m a progressive creationist) often gets you labeled an ‘idiot’ and instantly your entire faith system gets put down. Science has been around a very long time; it’s naive to pretend social dynamics do not play into people’s development behavior.

        ” You can’t make predictions off of “god did it” ” — You can’t make predictions of evolution, or what you’re computer is going to do, if you don’t understand WHY the theory is the way it is.

        “…it offers no scientific nor predictive value…” — Wrong. If you know anything about psychology, then you will know that there PLENTY of predictive value in religion when it comes to human beings and society. As for religion being USED by the scientific community — it’s not MEANT to be used by the scientific community, nor more than is science supposed to be USED to try and “defeat religion.” Such ideas is the talk of ideological fascists.

        “If science can’t study it, can’t observe it, then what good is it?” You don’t know very much about how the world works, do you? This line alone merits a very lengthy discussion, but I won’t go into it here beyond saying that because something does not hold value to YOU does not mean that it does not hold value.

        “It’s a huge shortcoming in the religious thinking – you need to study how science works and “insert magic here” is not part of the that process.”

        — To come full circle, this line of discussion is not about religion being used a tool within the scientific process. It’s about how people debate over which of them are right — when an evolutionist engages a creationist about why they believe in creation and asks them to explain themselves, then it should be expected that that evolutionist needs to be able to explain why they believe in evolution. My point is that many of them CAN NOT DO THIS. You laugh about the faith in God because a lot of people say things like, “Because God made it that way” but you don’t see the irony when evolutionists go, “Because it’s more [logical/science/scientific].” Parroting high school understanding makes you about as qualified to talk about the subject as does being a casual church goer who doesn’t know what really comes between Genesis and Revelations.

        • jerry says:

          A lot of strawman arguments and pure misdirection here, but let me address them.

          You said: “it’s okay to accept a truth about something regardless of the WHY or HOW so long as the explanation for it agrees with your own beliefs?” Those are purely your words and it gives great insight in to your thought process. We live in a time that is very different from say the 15 century when it would have been possible to have read all of the books in existence for your society (I’ll stick to european since it’s what I’m familiar with). Nowadays, it’s impossible to read/study all possible topics let alone master them. So for most, you have to have at best a cursory knowledge and defer to the experts. The scientific community believes that evolution is the best theory. The only group that disagrees with this are certain christian groups (maybe muslims too, that I don’t know). But as you stated, you let ideological views guide your beliefs, I can’t do anything to correct that.

          You said: “ou can’t make predictions of evolution, or what you’re computer is going to do, if you don’t understand WHY the theory is the way it is.” True, which is why we need to let science continue and stop trying to stop progress completely because you feel it threatens your belief system.

          You said: “Wrong. If you know anything about psychology, then you will know that there PLENTY of predictive value in religion when it comes to human beings and society. As for religion being USED by the scientific community — it’s not MEANT to be used by the scientific community, nor more than is science supposed to be USED to try and “defeat religion.” Such ideas is the talk of ideological fascists.” But you, wintery and a couple of others appear to be questioning why we continue with theories grounded in research and evidence when we can stop science and go with ID. So why you say it’s not suppose to be used by the scientific community more than enough in the christian circles want to add it to science class when it clearly doesn’t fit the mold of science.

          You said: “You don’t know very much about how the world works, do you? This line alone merits a very lengthy discussion, but I won’t go into it here beyond saying that because something does not hold value to YOU does not mean that it does not hold value.” No offense, but had your handle not indicated you were a female, this statement alone would have proved it. You took one sentence out of the context it was used in and try to interpret it independently. I’m starting to doubt you have worked with computers and am starting to believe you work in the liberal media.

          I will keep it short and end it here

          • Sarah Bonner says:

            Your use of ‘strawman argument’ has been incorrect, both times that you have used it. I feel compelled to point that out.

            At no point did I say someone needed to know everything there was to know about a subject — however, I do expect that if someone is going to go on the offensive and attack my religion, often without provocation, they should at least bring something to table besides repeating basic factoids they remember from high school.

            By the way, is there some sort of correlation you’re trying to make with that last paragraph concerning my gender? Talk down to women much, do you?

  14. JNorton says:

    We all SEE computers work. Evolution needs blind faith to make it work. And an adolescent level of sarcasm aimed at your opponents.

    Why aren’t there any transitional fossils? Shouldn’t there be millions? That is a common sense question that an average non-scientist could wonder about.

    • jerry says:

      Archeologists and the related fields are constantly filling in the missing gaps. Science takes time and money – both things the ideological right don’t want to give because they’re afraid of the outcome. Add on top of that these fossils can be located anywhere – even across political boundaries. Hence, if fossils that would fill in gaps are located in countries that are hostile to the western nations, we have to wait decades if not centuries before we can start to explore there. Also, oceanic boundaries move. Where there is water there was once land and vice versa. Also, fossils don’t come with big neon signs stating I’m located here. I don’t know all the ways that fossils are found, but I have noticed that a lot are found by chance. Again, it all takes time. Some fossils will probably never be found because of plate tectonics (oceans moving, etc).

      We’ve found enough fossil progression to see a very strong pattern in transition. To claim that we haven’t found every single possible transitional fossil so it must all be smoke and mirrors is a weak argument at best

      • Bob Morrison says:

        Jerry, the problem isn’t our inability to find “every single possible transitional fossil.” The problem is our inability to find any genuine transitional fossils. Even Darwin acknowledged that if his theory were true, we should find countless transitional fossils. He was hopeful that we would. We’ve had 150 years with precious little to show for it. All we have are a few disputed samples out of the literally millions of individual fossils found.

        • Jerry says:

          I think a lot of my points stand. You’re starting with the assumption that these missing fossils still exist. It’s a big if and if they do, they might not be accessible – they might be a mile or so off-shore, etc. They might be in the lands controlled by nations like N. Korea or the middle east – not very accessible.

          Also, while he may have put forth the idea 150 years go, it’s only very recently enjoyed wide acceptance. In 1926 our (the U.S.A) tried to throw a man in prison for teaching this idea in a science class. While he might have retained his freedom, it would have had a chilling affect on others that would have wanted to investigate that theory. So no, not really 150 years. Maybe 50 at this point and even that is pushing it as we have states today like Texas, Kansas, Georgia, etc that still want to ban this type of thinking.

          • Bob Morrison says:

            Jerry, it’s very difficult to build a convincing case for anything upon undiscovered evidence. No scientist worth his or her salt supports a conclusion with, “Well, the evidence is there somewhere. Maybe it’s just not accessible. So, until we find it, we’ll assume it’s there.”

            Do you really believe that we’ve found millions of fossils, but all the transitional ones just happen to be in North Korea or some other inaccessible place?

        • maroonblazer says:

          Lack of transitional fossils isn’t a problem for scientists. Lack of ID’s predictive power IS a problem for the religious. Evolution has spawned entire domains of study that are delivering results.

          The same can’t be said for ID.

      • JNorton says:

        I appreciate the feedback.
        You named several reasons why fossils in general might not be located, but that doesn’t answer why the transitionals have not been found. What are the odds that that ONLY one type of fossil cannot be located?

        What do you mean by fossil progression?

        I never said “every single fossil” has to be found-just the transitionals.

        • It might be helpful to all to focus like a laser beam on the Cambrian explosion.

        • Jerry says:

          I think my post did a decent job at addressing why – lack of funding, lack of access (e.g., N. Korea, hostile countries, etc), plate tectonics (we know parts of the U.S.A used to be oceans and vice versa) making potential fossil finds impossible.

          Add on top of that, it takes very specific conditions to produce a fossil while fossils of species like jellyfish or other soft-bodied species (amphibians?) are even rarer – it may be unlikely that we will ever find enough to make the doubters happy. I’m not even sure if it’s required – at times it is nice to debate the issues.

          For fossil progression I was mostly referring to ancestral progression (though I know because of the branching nature of evolution and the many dead-ends this can be very tough and often highly debatable, even by those expert in the field, which I am not).

          But to say that there are no transitional fossils is false – we have found plenty. What transitions in particular are you looking for? If you’re looking for the one that shows fish turning in to man, I doubt we will find that one (some sarcasm there, sorry). But we’ve found some that have showed the fish leaving the sea, that one that was found 2 years after darwin first published that showed dinosaurs going in to the sky, etc.

  15. JNorton says:

    Wait a minute, You said,

    “…you need to study how science works and ‘insert magic here’ is not part of the process.”

    The only way evolution works is with random mutations. Random mutations is inserted because there is no other way; is this correct?

    • Appealing to random mutations to create information is magic.

      See the research paper:
      http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/12/behes_challenge_a_conversation041471.html

      The multiverse is an appeal to magic to get away from the fine-tuning.
      The quantum gravity model is an appeal to magic to get away from the Big Bang.
      Directed panspermia is an appeal to magic to get away from specified complexity.
      The promissary notes on undiscovered fossils is an appeal to magic to get away from the Cambrian explosion.

      And so on. Atheism *IS* magic. It’s the belief that somehow, some way all of the good science we have today that shows the need for a Creator and Designer will be overturned with one fell swoop by the noodly appendage of the Fling Spaghetti Monster.

      Jerry probably believes in catastrophic man-made global warming too!

      • Neil Shenvi says:

        WK,
        I know very little about intelligent design arguments, and I had a question about your statement “Appealing to random mutations to create information is magic.” It seems to me that you are right that random mutations cannot produce information. But it also seems true that random mutations plus natural selection can produce information.

        For instance, in the recent episode of Unbelievable featuring Stephen Meyer and Peter Atkins, Meyer repeatedly stated that intelligent minds are the only object we know of that can produce information, to which Atkins repeatedly said “Rubbish”. They didn’t actually address this point until the end of the show, when Meyer admitted that natural select can produce modest amounts of information, but not nearly enough to account for macroeveolution.

        So it seems like there is an important caution. ID theorists should not make the statement that natural selection “cannot produce information.” Rather, according to Meyers, it can produce information, but only in small amounts. The ID argument should be that macroeveolution requires far more information than can be obtained through natural selection. But it is misleading to say that natural selection cannot produce information at all. Am I understanding things correctly?

        Also, none of this has any bearing on the origins of life because Darwinian natural selection only operates on existing replicating life, not on abiotic chemicals.
        -Neil

        • There is no natural selection when you are trying to build the FIRST replicator. Additionally, if you read Behe’s “The Edge of Evolution”, he shows that any adaptation that requires only a few mutations is extremely unlikely.

          See:
          http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/pro-id-scientist-ann-gauger-interviewed-on-mike-behes-latest-paper/

          • Neil Shenvi says:

            WK,
            Absolutely agreed. The original information in the first replecator could not have been produced by natural selection. Darwinian explanations are simply not applicable to biogenesis, so the problem of the origin of the initial information is still immense. I just think it’s important for Christians not to make the seemingly blanket statement that “information only comes from minds.” Small amounts of information could potentially come from natural selection. But the questions are: how much information can be produced by natural selection? And where did the initial information need for biogenesis come from?
            -Neil

    • jerry says:

      But we know the general mechanism on how those random mutations arive. We don’t have to appeal to magical intervention to explain them. We also know that some mutations will lead to negative adaptibility and a dead-end in that tree.

      • Neil Shenvi says:

        Jerry,
        I’m not a biologist, so I am not commenting from a position of professional expertise, but I think that your statement that “we know the general mechanism on how those random mutations arrive” is misleading. There is no question that there is a massive amount of information stored in the human genome. It also seems clear that believers in both evolution and intelligent design concede that natural selection can produce _some_ information through “microevolution”. But they disagree radically as to how much.

        For instance, let’s say I found a copy of Romeo and Juliet in a library. There is no doubt that it contains a vast amount of information. But consider two hypotheses. One hypothesis is that Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet. The other hypothesis is that millions of scribes, starting with one of Shakespeare’s Sonnet #14 made millions of copies of the sonnet, each altering it randomly and gradually adding material. But the public threw away the versions that were less interesting until we arrived at Romeo and Juliet. Those are two competing theories. Now what is the evidence for the second theory? I could point out that there are many examples of scribes altering one or two words in a text and those alteration being accepted by the public if they were more interesting. Would I have proved my thesis simply by showing that a mechanism exists? No. I would still have to make a huge extrapolation to get from the accepted alterations of single words in a text to the alteration of a sonnet into a play. So pointing to an established mechanism for the introduction of new information still does not prove that this mechanism is sufficient to explain the final results we observe.

        The same issue is the key in ID versus evolution. No one seems to doubt that natural selection can produce some new information. But macroevolution does not immediately follow from the existence of microevolution.

        Also, as we’ve already pointed out, Darwnian evolution is completely inapplicable to the origin of life, as -for instance- Richard Dawkins has clearly stated. The question of where the original information came from is not even addressable by an appeal to natural selection because natural selection operates only on existing organisms and genomes.
        -Neil

  16. Mind Cabinet says:

    People forget that Science presupposes logic and morality. You can’t do proper science without logic and morality. Atheism is not the answer in having a justified foundation in doing Science. Therefore, Atheists borrow (steal) from, I would say, a theistic world view. Ironically, Atheists believe they are the knights of Science, here to rescue it from the world of religion. I think this is nothing more than the Dunning–Kruger effect.

  17. Ronnie says:

    @Jerry “So no, most people don’t believe in evolution because it’s the “in thing”, they believe in it because the scientific body believes in it and theology’s alternative offers no benefit to science. You can’t make predictions off of “god did it””

    And all you are doing is saying “EVOLUTION DID IT” in regards to all the questions of blind processes.

    Jerry have you ever heard of the term “Naturalism of the gaps”? I guess naturalists believe they are immune to the double standard

    • Jerry says:

      No, I haven’t heard of “naturalism of the gaps”, but I believe that doesn’t make much sense. Science has to start somewhere. I believe it was Bob Morrison a few posts up stated that Darwin had put forth his theory 150 years ago, so it’s not a very old theory. Add on top of that, I believe it was in 1926 that Scopes was put on trial for teaching it. Hence, in this one small area of science, we’ve had government and religion persecuting anyone who dared think and ask how we arrived at this level of development. You would have literally been thrown in jail (or worse) for not believing what others believed in – it’s a huge detriment to scientific progress. For millenia it was common dogma that what ever deity you believed in was the cause.

      So it only stands to reason that at this point in scientific endeavors, there will still be a lot of gaps, it’s only natural.

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