Thursday, April 23, 2009

Did Darwin Kill God, Part 2: Science

Continuing from Part 1.

When we left off we learned that the battle between Evolution and Christianity has nothing to do with science and religion and rather everything to do with politics and morality. Having previously learned that real Christians have never ever believed Genesis was literal.

William Jennings Bryan was a fundamentalist Christian Socialist who opposed evolution largely because he hated social Darwinism and clearly Social Darwinism is exactly the same as evolution.

So no Christian ever takes Genesis as literal in the all of history and nobody has ever opposed the teaching of evolution. Until now, we are currently caught out in left field by Bizarro-Superman's failure to stop the Scopes Monkey trial. Bryan was a complete freak and that's why he opposed evolution. Darrow on the other side, thought that science and reason could give a better morality than Christianity. We are told that that "Is a morality based on survival of the fittest!" However, nobody on either side bothered to ask if by embracing some absurd apologetics they couldn't be compatible and this is why people thought they were at odds, because everybody was just too stupid to ask whether they actually were at odds. When, as Cunningham has repeatedly told us, Magic Man done it in a garden with a magical tree is clearly compatable with it happened slowly by a self-refining process over billions of years so long as nobody *ACTUALLY* believes "Magic Man done it in a garden with a magical tree."

But Bryan suggested that the days were time periods rather than literal days. That's old Earth Creationism and they aren't at odds. What? Pfft. Worried about morality and social decline Christians embraced Young Earth Creationism by the 1960s because somebody wrote a book about Noah's Ark and how it totally happened. The creation museum freaks him out.

Literal Biblical interpretations undoes several hundred years of science and several thousand years of theology. However, the theology he's talking about is just pragmatism. You shouldn't tell the non-believers the funny parts because they'll laugh... guess what, we're laughing.

"By calling Genesis a science textbook they are calling upon us to worship science" -- WTF. No. Talk to creationists you dumbass they want you to worship God, not science. They oppose science because the Bible and scientific understandings are at odds with each other and they want their Bible to win.

But then there was ID which claimed to be science. "But, in reality it was just Paley's discredited notion of God." Oh, fuck you very much. Paley's notion of a watchmaker God was clearly the majority opinion and though the argument has a few holes in it (you can't actually conclude God did it) the notion is far more impressive and important than Cunningham credits it with. He seems to be very inclined towards suggesting that the Argument from Design is a mere footnote of frindge elements who weren't part of real Christianity that always disregarded Genesis as hokum.

'ID talks about God who intervenes with world affairs, and this means that he should intervene to defeat evil.' There are so many problems with that that I'm at a loss to list them all. First off ID doesn't need an intervening God. God could have just designed everything and scampered off. Cunningham's God still doesn't get to dodge the Argument from Evil because Cunningham's God is "the source of the gift of life". As to why this couldn't be the God of ID escapes me, but apparently for those keeping track:

ID God, Has no solution to the problem of evil. Not the source of life.
Cunningham God, doesn't need to solve the problem of evil. Gives gift of life.

Cunningham's God doesn't stop child molesters either, but these failures are only failures for other people's gods. Cunningham's God is the god of Traditional Christianity. Your Christianity is a freakshow bit of nonsense that actually has the audacity to believe the Bible. Philistines!

"God is existence itself." -- There's a word for that retard! It's called "existence". Creationism is a modern anomaly, that has nothing to do with Christianity. They believe that God created the world like it says he did in the Bible. That means they are nothing more than idolaters who want to worship science. -- I'm running out of absurd things to say about this position so I've taken to just repeating it in different words.

DARWINIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS! He's going to Boston to meet somebody who says that evolution has killed the need for God all together. Who could this fundamentalist be? Who could this closed-minded bigot against religion be? I'm on the edge of my seat! Universal Darwinism? Ultra Darwinism? Targets God? Hm. Who could it be. -- Dan Dennett? Really?

He uses evolution to justify atheism? What? Hey dumbass, you don't seem to know what you're talking about. "There's no role for a creative God. It takes no intelligence and it happens automatically." -- That's absolutely right.

"Ultradarwinists say that evolution says that there cannot be a God. " -- What? What part of "no role for" said "cannot be"? Evolution properly understood doesn't need God. It doesn't need anything but imperfect replication and heredity. That's why it's so jawdropping. It doesn't mean there's no God, it just means that God isn't needed to create life because life is fully able to create itself.

The basis for the newfound confidence in this is "The Selfish Gene". Now this is just poor scholarship. Its much the same as attributing all of Young Earth Creationism to one book on Noah's Ark. The Selfish Gene simply takes the Gene-Eye-View to better explain things like kin altruism.

"Some of those who disagree are some of the best scientists in the world." Hm. Francis Collins? What does he have to do with anything. There are more genes in other things than in other people. And our understandings of genes are quickly becoming more fuzzy. And this means the Selfish Gene fails and Ultradarwinism fails. What? These are certainly insightful but they aren't demolishing to universal-darwinism or evolution as an algorithm. Gene-Eye-View isn't a rock solid view, it's just a better view than organisms-eye-view. People with Huntingston die of Huntingston, but they also have more children on average than those who don't have it. This means that the gene prospers at the expense of the organism. It's hard to understand how a fatal genetic disorder could prosper without understanding that it makes more copies of itself. Also, things like altruism don't make much sense when one is constantly competing with others. Why should you give your life to save your entire family, because the genes that tell you you should are found more in your family.

You can't just reduce it to a gene and say that's the only unit. Nobody does that. In fact, after the Selfish Gene Dawkins made a point in several of his later books to point out the levels at which evolution occurs. However, since genes are the units of heredity it is these emergent properties at higher levels that ultimately reverberate down (they don't actually go anywhere, evolution is a bit like spooky action at a distance in this respect) and promote those genes that gave rise to those properties.

While flocking is useful to birds, and something about genes causes birds to flock (or those genes in those environments in those mixtures), it's those genes that benefit from flocking but the behavior even if we can't really pin down exactly what does what. We can predict however that if a gene somewhat critical to flocking breaks down that organism is going to be less fit in certain circumstances.

Collins: "Atheism, the statement that there is no God. Is not a scientific statement." -- Well the statement, I don't believe in God because I don't feel the proponents of the God theory have successfully made their case, IS a scientific statement.

"Science is limited to making statements about nature." -- In nature, we find no evidence that there is a God.

"Evolution is the answer to how. God is the answer to why." - Why is grass green? How did that come about? They evolved to be green because the red and blue ends of the spectrum are filled with some high quality photons and a vast number of low quality ones. The middle line green photons are fairly common but fairly weak and neither way of exploiting chemical reactions as such can properly utilize them (either get the most or get the best). So we have plants that evolved from blue-green plants into green plants and reflect green light because they never evolved a way to properly utilize it. How the fuck does that not answer the questions of how AND why?

"The God of the Gaps was never part of Christainity." -- Really. I'll just let that line sink in.

Not just believers in God who share his views. Atheists do to, who is this Chamberlin atheist he's going to bring up? Michael Ruse. Hey, I remeber that name. He published a few things that were utterly incoherent and nonsensical.

Neither Dan Dennett nor Richard Dawkins implies that Evolution implies atheism. Ruse is fucktarded if he doesn't understand their position.

"Atheists use the selfish gene to try and suppose that evolution does imply atheism." -- No.

"A theory has emerged that thinks it can explain everything, love, morality, even my belief in a creator. So is it safe to say that Darwinsm has killed god. It's a theory, which was born in Britian, it's call the theory of memes." - While certainly Christianity would be a meme of sorts, it's certainly the case that love and morality are both largely explained largely in the context of good old genetics.

"It goes much further than saying there's no God. It says there's no you or me." -- First off, evolution never said there was no God and neither did your supposed Darwinian Fundamentalists make that implication from evolution. There's no God because there's no God. Evolution is true because evolution is true. Memes don't suggest for a moment that you don't exist, but that you are colonized by memes. That a number of the ideas you have are had by you because those ideas are propagated by society, because those ideas are those ideas which are good at propagating.

It's a really good theory and the deficits are in the vagueness of how they are stored which is more an problem in cognition than with the theory in the context of universal Darwinism. This doesn't mean that everything is an illusion, it means that much of cognition is gleamed from society and society evolves. This doesn't imply for a moment as Cunningham suggests that being colonized by the Christianity meme means he's deluded and God isn't real. I'm infected by the gravity meme and I can verify that a trillion different ways, all of which are quite useful.

There's a fundamental flaw at the heart of theory. He also believes in evolution and therefore he's been colonized by the theory of evolution meme. Yes, it does. "How can I trust this meme to be any more true than any other meme?" -- Science. Ever heard of it? The meme that humans only use 10% of their brains is popular but false. You can quickly verify that it isn't true with a little research or careful reflection. Science is how you sort the true from the false. Science is the epistemological foundation that allows you to accept the true and reject the unproven.

Cunningham, with dramatic music, suggests that his utter idiocy on this point is a "philosophical problem that confronts anyone who believes in the theory of memes." Science requires objective truth, but there's no benchmark and their survival has nothing to do with their truth. The problem is science in such a view of the world is the clear suggestion that we should test these ideas and reject those which aren't true. Science is the methodological process by which we are asked to give true memes a selective advantage over the false ones.

Darwin's theory cannot be the whole story, and being but a chapter can't explain away God. First off, nobody said it was the whole story, he misunderstands universal Darwinism. Evolution by natural selection is an algorithm, algorithms apply everywhere and where ever we have the needed bits, evolution will occur. Memes, however, meet this criteria and thus must by definition evolve as such.

Cunningham then visits Morris who talks about music who notes that birds use music in much the same way humans do. This is generally as Dennett notes a Good Trick™, where two different bits of evolution converge on the same solution, much like bats and birds both fly. This isn't a demolishing blow to evolution, or something bizarre or odd, it's quite common and fairly interesting. The fact that there are solutions to things in design space which can be discovered via evolution, doesn't suggest that evolution is somehow flawed or incomplete. The reverse of the insinuation here is utterly flummoxing, would we expect to find that evolution actually made flight work in the first place? Is it evolution that made insects fly, not because the design for flight evolved within the world of physics, engineering, and design space, but because evolution itself produced flight and deigned that an upward force exceeding the downward force of gravity would propel something upwards?

"The theory of evolution helps my understanding of God from becoming too comfortable. Darwin hated religious controversy. He would have been dismayed. Accepted it and stop using it to attack religion!" -- Fuck you. Your magic man done it ideas are retarded, and just because you can claim with a straight face that nobody actually thinks "magic man done it" doesn't make it remotely true. I don't say there's no God because of evolution, I say there's no God because there's no God.

Part 3, Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda, coming soon.

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