The Watering Hole; Friday September 12 2014; Carson v. Dawkins

Yesterday I posted here a link to statements by Dr. Ben Carson in which he pointed out that evolution is a myth because “God Can Create Anything At Any Point In Time.” Carson is a former neurosurgeon who has emerged today as a Wingnuttistanian Republican, a potential presidential candidate. Carson’s religious philosophy represents the dream of the religious right because of his pronouncements that it is human arrogance which allows some to believe that they are so smart that if they can’t explain how God did something, then it didn’t happen, which of course means that they’re God. You don’t need a God if you consider yourself capable of explaining everything. Carson also states unequivocally that when it comes to the earth’s age, “no one has the knowledge. He further maintains that “carbon dating and all of these things really don’t mean anything to a God who has the ability to create anything at any point in time.” It’s also Carson’s thesis that the “complexity of the human brain” essentially disproves evolutionary theory because when “Somebody says that came from a slime pit full of promiscuous biochemicals? I don’t think so.”

“Promiscuous biochemicals”? Really?

Such grossly unscientific views are, these days, not at all uncommon, particularly amongst those who belong to — who essentially have come to define — the religious right in the United States. As a political movement, they are also all too often left unchallenged when on full display in public forum, a reality many of their opponents have long felt to be an unfortunate trend given that virtually all religion-based theses of origin are so easily dismissed by scientific fact. In that vein, I present herein a series of quotes on the matter by one Richard Dawkins, the well known English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and writer. These are quotes that I somehow managed to collect/accumulate over the last decade or two, and though I didn’t record specific dates or source attributions, they are, each and all, Dawkins’ verbal refutations of such nonsensical mythology as spoken by Ben Carson (and many many others), as cited above.

Richard Dawkins:

“People brought up to believe in faith and private revelation cannot be persuaded by evidence to change their minds. No wonder religious zealots throughout history have resorted to torture and execution, to crusades and jihads, to holy wars and purges and pogroms, to the Inquisition and the burning of witches.”

“For a long time it seemed clear to just about everybody that the beauty and elegance of the world seemed to be prima facie evidence for a divine creator. But the philosopher David Hume already realized three centuries ago that this was a bad argument. It leads to an infinite regression. You can’t statistically explain improbable things like living creatures by saying that they must have been designed because you’re still left to explain the designer, who must be, if anything, an even more statistically improbable and elegant thing. Design can never be an ultimate explanation for anything. It can only be a proximate explanation. A plane or a car is explained by a designer but that’s because the designer himself, the engineer, is explained by natural selection.”

“There is just no evidence for the existence of God. Evolution by natural selection is a process that works up from simple beginnings, and simple beginnings are easy to explain. The engineer or any other living thing is difficult to explain but it is explicable by evolution by natural selection. So the relevance of evolutionary biology to atheism is that evolutionary biology gives us the only known mechanism whereby the illusion of design, or apparent design, could ever come into the universe anywhere.”

“A delusion is something that people believe in despite a total lack of evidence. Religion is scarcely distinguishable from childhood delusions like the “imaginary friend” and the bogeyman under the bed. Unfortunately, the God delusion possesses adults, and not just a minority of unfortunates in an asylum. The word ‘delusion’ also carries negative connotations, and religion has plenty of those.”

“The beauty of Darwinian evolution is that it explains the very improbable, by gradual degrees. It starts from primeval simplicity (relatively easy to understand), and works up, by plausibly small steps, to complex entities whose genesis, by any non-gradual process, would be too improbable for serious contemplation. Design is a real alternative, but only if the designer is himself the product of an escalatory process such as evolution by natural selection, either on this planet or elsewhere. There may be alien life forms so advanced that we would worship them as gods. But they too must ultimately be explained by gradual escalation. Gods that exist ‘ab initio’ are ruled out by the Argument from Improbability, even more surely than are spontaneously erupting eyes or elbow joints.”

“Most scientists use the term God in the way that Einstein did, as an expression of reverence for the deep mysteries of the universe, a sentiment I share.” 

“Within 50 million years, it’s highly unlikely humans will still be around and it is sad to think of the loss of all that knowledge and music.”

“‘Religious’ physicists usually turn out to be so only in the Einsteinian sense: they are atheists of a poetic disposition. So am I. But, given the widespread yearning for that great misunderstanding, deliberately to confuse Einsteinian pantheism with supernatural religion is an act of intellectual high treason.

“The first cause cannot have been an intelligence – let alone an intelligence that answers prayers and enjoys being worshipped. Intelligent, creative, complex, statistically improbable things come late into the universe, as the product of evolution or some other process of gradual escalation from simple beginnings. They come late into the universe and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.”

“Even before Darwin’s time, the illogicality was glaring: how could it ever have been a good idea to postulate, in explanation for the existence of improbable things, a designer who would have to be even more improbable? The entire argument is a logical non-starter, as David Hume realized before Darwin was born.”

“Natural selection is so stunningly powerful and elegant, it not only explains the whole of life, it raises our consciousness and boosts our confidence in science’s future ability to explain everything else. Natural selection is not just an alternative to chance. It is the only ultimate alternative ever suggested. … Natural selection is an anti-chance process, which gradually builds up complexity, step by tiny step.”

“[E]volution is a predictive science. If you pick any hitherto unstudied species and subject it to minute scrutiny, any evolutionist will confidently predict that each individual will be observed to do everything in its power, in the particular way of the species – plant, herbivore, carnivore, nectivore or whatever it is – to survive and propagate the DNA that rides inside it.”

“We explain our existence by a combination of the anthropic principle and Darwin’s principle of natural selection. That combination provides a complete and deeply satisfying explanation for everything that we see and know. Not only is the god hypothesis unnecessary. It is spectacularly unparsimonious. Not only do we need no God to explain the universe and life. God stands out in the universe as the most glaring of all superfluous sore thumbs. We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can’t disprove Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can’t disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable.”

Not much else I can add save for perhaps a single word:

Amen.

OPEN THREAD

 

50 thoughts on “The Watering Hole; Friday September 12 2014; Carson v. Dawkins

  1. Carson is daft. Difficult to believe a neurosurgeon is that dim on the subject of the brain and life in general. Physicians are, generally, seekers of knowledge.
    Carson is closed-minded, no curiosity.

    • For some odd reason, the thesis that without a god there would be no creation reminds me of a line Flip Wilson used years ago when he was talking about Columbus and how he set sail from Spain to discover America. He said, “Queen Isabella, she told Columbus, ‘Columbus, you GOTTA discover America, else there won’t be no Ray Charles!'”

      Same church, different pew. Sotospeak.😉

  2. Richard Dawkins is a sharp lad, was one of my friend’s tutors/lecturers back in the day at the old University…. but he is a bit militant for my view and puts people off with his condescension sometimes….

    …. my favourite atheist is the far easier on the eye and ear, Jaclyn Glenn. And she goes where Richard Dawkins fears to tread….. this time she tackles whether Jesus approves of masturbation or breast implants or both….or neither

    • Maybe a zookeeper would switch that to an href – that’s a lot of cleavage for 8am…. Jaclyn has always been SFW in my experience…(she’s in the pink shirt)

    • That was awesome! Don’t masturbate, it’s selfish. Instead, get implants and more money for yourself. Like Yeah!!!!

  3. The most obvious Straw Man of the religious about science is this question:

    “Do you believe in Evolution?”

    My daughter’s immediate reaction to this is “Yes”. My comment to her is “actually the right response is – the question is invalid. Evolution is a scientific fact, not a question of belief. It remains a scientific fact whether or not I believe in it.”

    Then I asked her to get out her cellphone – “Do you believe in this cell phone? – I just asked you the same question as they did. In this case, we have James Maxwell, Niels Bohr, Alan Turing and many others telling us that the cellphone does need our ‘belief’ in order to exist. Oh and by the way – from the existence of this cellphone we can deduce the age of the Earth and it’s not 4,000 years.”

    • As a professor once told our class, “There is the Theory of Evolution, and there is the FACT of evolution. The theory is simply a means of discerning the details that will fully describe the FACT.”

      There is no contrary cogent argument to any of that, only religious argument which is contrary but never cogent.

      • Such a load of nonsense.
        We know with great certainty that Crom, gloomy god of the Cimmerian warrior race, that Crom made the earth in just four minutes. What kind of a slacker god would need seven freakin days? He breathed into every newborn the will to slay his/her enemies, and done.
        Now that’s what I call a religious dogma.
        /thnark off

  4. more crazies!!

    A man who said he witnessed an epic fistfight last weekend at an Anchorage, Alaska party that allegedly included Sarah Palin’s family was reportedly fired from his job after telling ABC’s “Good Morning America” what he saw.

    Eric Thompson, who said he was one of some 70 guests at the rowdy party, told ABC that he saw Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol land several punches on a man who once dated her sister Willow.

    “Bristol just reached back and started clocking him, she hit him — reached way back here and caught him right on the chin, I counted at least six times.”

    Anchorage police confirmed to TPM that members of the Palin family were indeed present at the party. A spokeswoman did not say whether they got involved in the fight, as the case was still open.

    “I heard Sarah Palin scream out, ‘You know who we are, don’t you?'” Thompson told ABC. “It was just like we were on a Jerry Springer episode.”

    “The police seemed to show up right after they left, asking people questions and wanting to know what’s going on,” he added.

    Thompson was fired from his job after sharing that account with ABC, according to a producer for Entertainment Tonight:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/eric-thompson-palin-brawl-witness-fired

  5. Strange days here in Calgary. We had around 30 cm (1 foot) of snow from Monday to Wednesday. Unfortunately, all the leaves on the trees thought it was still summer and so were all very connected to the branches. The snow was wet and very heavy. Our two 40+ feet tall trees in our front yard lost huge branches and I suspect one of them will have to be completely removed. One came within a couple of feet of the house and it is filling my front window – odd view! In all, there must be well over 100,000 trees affected in the city! Some roads were impassible and lots of people had no power – including us. Our nice looking city looks like a real mess and it will be weeks before it all gets cleaned up – hopefully before the ‘real’ snow flies.

    • Climate change, what climate change?

      Good to read your home was spared. That has to be scary – trees snapping and falling all over the city.

  6. Sarah Palin: ‘I owe America a global apology because John McCain should be our president.’

    For starters, I do not think the word ‘global’ means what you think it means.

  7. via LGF –

    Chuck Woolery Loses It: “The Muslims Are ON THE MARCH!”

    Chuck Woolery @chuckwoolery

    We may not know for sure what’s going on but we can sure make a very educated guess. My guess. Obama is a Muslim. Trouble 4 us.

    ——————————————–

    Locally:

    Muslims share 9/11 reflections at San Jose peace picnic

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