Monday, December 30, 2013

Dialogues with Hopeless Delusional Idiots ep. 2

So there are times when people are just out and out stupid and put out things in all caps and hurl insults rather than actually trying to argue anything.  We've all seen this, and it's the sort of thing where I could post something completely beyond the pale absurd saying that an actual creationist really said this, and you'd have no idea whether I was making it up or not.  Then there are those who seem otherwise well-adjusted and perhaps even normal on the surface.  It's only when you prod a little deeper that you find that these people are really hopelessly brainwashed.  This particular exchange is one of those latter cases.

This is from a discussion on Facebook about 3 years ago.  Obviously, I'm going to be leaving out real names, but it's not as if it really matters who specifically the person is so much as just being able to identify who said what.  The full discussion is actually quite long and involved multiple exchanges, so it will be difficult to really display it all in one blog post.  In between, of course, we had little moments where we had to stop because one of us would be out of town or something or because of text length limitations, we'd split the responses up, and so we would say things like "I'll have to continue this response in the next post" and so on, which isn't really relevant to the discussion, so I'm also leaving all those bits out.

Where it all actually began was a wall post from a mutual friend in which he linked to the news report about Craig Venter and his team successfully creating their artificial phenotype of bacteria containing an entirely synthetic genome.  It was billed in press as creating "artificial life", which is pseudo-accurate at best, and that's where a lot of debate soon came up, especially from the "Intelligent Design" crowd.  In any case, I put up a response saying that it was a great achievement on their part, and also addressing the fact that the ID supporters will say that it proves that you needed a designer just the way the Venter Institute's staff had to design this genome.  The key thing that gives away their fingerprint of design of course, is the fact that they encoded the URL to their white paper in the pseudo-genes of this bacterium.  If there was anything close to that for a hypothetical "designer" for all life, then you've got some sort of a case for ID...  and that's where the discussion began.

To begin with, I'll start with the part of the discussion that happened in the thread of the original post.  There are extremely long exchanges that happened afterwards when we took the discussion to PMs that I'll probably have to save for some follow-up posts.
As before, I'm color coding the text so you know who said what...  Purple colored text will mark the delusional idiot's postings, while Yellow is for mine.  In the middle, there is one response by our mutual friend which I referenced in a following response, which I'll color Cyan.  If I have any commentary to add in the middle which is part of this post, they will be uncolored.

that took 15 years of trial and error and dogged purposeful effort to put together, and borrow from preexisting models for life. Yeah. I guess it does prove that life is simply an emergent property of organic chemistry replicated quintillions of times over in a scheme so complex that only an intelligent agent could wonder if there is an intelligent designer. It's about as simple as a hot-pocket induced fart. NOT. amino acids are acting up in tandem again.

Borrowing from pre-existing models is why every car company doesnt have to reinvent the wheel. It's a sign of smartly leveraging the hard work of previous minds. It's a good thing, dude.

Which is also exactly how real biology works. It can only borrow from that which is already extant, whether you want to talk about nucleotide monomers getting trapped in a primitive fatty acid micelle, a symbiotic colony of prokaryotes becoming a eukaryote, or human reproduction.

no, no argument there. What I'm saying is that it took lots of purpose and effort. So while the ingredients could be arguably basic, the symphony behind their collaboration is quite 'intelligent'. Unintelligent material doesn't debunk an intelligent engineer.

I never said anything about it being easy or simple. What I said is that the ID community is guaranteed to distort everything about the work done because they're just that dishonest. The reason it's so difficult for us is because we have to work retroactively in discovering these things from what is obvious in loose observation to the real fine details, and it's a lot to try and figure out to a very high degree of specificity.

It doesn't refute ID per se, but it doesn't support it, even though the IDiots will twist it to make it sound that way. It's positive claims that need to be supported explicitly, but ID folks do none of that and all indications are that they never will at any point. They call it science, but all their efforts are press messages and litigation. Sorry, but science is done in the lab and in the field... not in a courtroom.

and you make some very good points. No doubt there will be a mixed bag of responses and reactions to this huge development in bioengineering and I guess you could call it nanotechnology (hard to pin something that's never been done before...). To be fair I think that there are students of good science on both sides of the issue, and what you might call the "loud minority". The problem with furnishing both ID theory and evolutionary theory (I'm assuming this is what we're talking about) is that they are BOTH retroactive endeavors in that they both have to establish evidence based on the material and patterns that are observable now. So almost your entire answer could be copied and pasted with "evolutionist" instead of "ID" and they would both make sense.

You might have heard of Ben Stein's documentary entitled "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." To quote Ravi Zacharias: "The problem is not the absence of truth; it is the suppression of it."

Two major things about that.
It is not at all true that there are students of good science on both sides. Evolution is a scientific theory, while ID is not even eligible to be open to consideration for the potential to be elevated to the status of being a theory. In science, a theory has to provide a thorough process explanation for how and why things are the way they are and give rise to predictions and implications to a very high degree of specificity. Evolution does that, and it agrees with all the data it seeks to explain. Not some; ALL.

ID cannot ever be a theory because it doesn't provide any explanation for how things happen. It simply posits the existence of a designer who did things without saying what was done, how it was done, what the nature of the designer is, or when and where it acts. There is simply NO mechanism of design described in any sense, and without that, you don't even have a hypothesis.  It has no specificity since the designer's capacity and will are undefined, so any predictions borne from it are completely arbitrary by nature, which means it has no capacity for predictive power or specificity.

Secondly, evolution is the single most supported theory in all of science. The number of pieces of evidence gathered to support it exceed that of any other theory ever devised. It has a history where we have not merely found things to fit the model, but the model predicted that we should find things and we have actually found them after making those predictions. And it has all that mainly because it is the fundamental foundation for ALL of biology, ALL of biochemistry, ALL of modern medicine, and so all these fields provide wellsprings of evidence and pertinent knowledge. ID has literally zero pieces of supporting evidence, and it underpins precisely nothing.

Ben Stein's movie is a fine example of lies and distortions. His cases of people who were "expelled" from academia? He doesn't mention that the full record shows instances of cheating, of abusing authority, of subverting the peer review process, and academia only gives you one chance. That and the so-called "stellar" research records that some of these people have are put to shame even by mine... even mine before I was an undergrad. His interviews with real biologists are heavily edited to make it sound like they are saying things they didn't, and the requests he issued to them made boldfaced lies to the scientists about the nature of the interviews, and most of the overall content was cut out to leave out how they tempered their statements and added details. Then of course, there were the invocations of Godwin's Law, which were entirely based on unequivocally false claims in the hopes that no one would actually fact-check them (fact-checking those claims would involve reading Hitler's writings, and people are generally too repulsed by the idea to do that).

i can answer for my belief in an Intelligent Designer. 11 yrs ago i was at wit's end with God. i quit the God thing for some of these same arguments. the irony- i had a dream one day that changed my life. in it, i was shown drawings of animals-like Darwin's sketches-then an audible voice that said: '[Delusional Idiot's Name]. i could have made you anything i wanted to...i could have made you a monkey if I wanted to, but I didn't. Now, are you going to follow Me, or what?' i about crapped my pants. you may have heard that 'faith is the substance of things hoped for-the evidence of things unseen.'

Sagan's views are derived from what he worships. my views derive from Whom I worship. i look at the same pieces you do under the lens of an opposing conviction that says- 'this Creator's thumbprint is everywhere!' funny how intellectual pride and evolutionary indoctrination go hand in hand. because that is the true object of worship. that exhilaration of being free from accountability to God.

Oh boy... a dream is his big evidence?  You know what's interesting about dreams?  They only happen in your head and nowhere else.  I love especially how having slowly trended away from religion and then failing to do so because of his scary dream is not treated as the result of a life of indoctrination...  but acceptance of evolution?  That's totally indoctrination to which "intellectual pride" makes us vulnerable...

I wouldn't dare say "free from accountability" whatsoever.  You're getting this notion of an absolute arbiter of truth and justice from your theology alone without any basis to actually say that the groundings of your theology has any element of validity to it in the first place.  Without a magical deity in the top, it's not that we're unaccountable, but that we're accountable to things that actually exist.  Like, say...  other people... or the systems of laws and justice we have put into place as a society.  Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by virtue of the fact that it has passed its test of accountability as an idea through the filter of methodological naturalism.  Which is nothing more than a tool, not a worldview or anything of the sort.  There is no underlying motive to methodological naturalism -- it's simply intellectual honesty at work.

The most important takeaway with methodological naturalism is that is that truth isn't a matter of personal opinion or feelings. Even if I had all the knowledge in the world at my disposal, there's no way that I could say it is unequivocally impossible for a creator being to exist, but saying that alone only gets you so far. To make a case for ID, the posited designer-deity not only has to be shown to exist, but any properties ascribed to it are independent claims demanding independent verification of their own. Lacking a belief in the existence of said being is simply a position of taking the null hypothesis -- that is, not making claims to the existence of anything that hasn't been shown to exist, and letting facts speak for themselves rather than inductively interpret based on what I already desire to be true. That makes it, by definition, the most valid position to take, and by this approach, it's faith that is the true sin.

BTW, on a side note about the "creator's thumbprint" thing you mentioned. If you really wanted a decently strong support of intelligent design, a good thing to look for would be that sort of unequivocal signature similar to the way [Venter's] team put a watermark in the chromosome with a message in it. That sort of thing is definitely not something that can be easily explained through natural processes.

In [the case of Venter's work], of course, we have names and a URL and so on, which is a uniquely human signature. No idea what to look for if there was a message encoded from a deity, but it should theoretically be fairly obvious and too "meaningful" to be a product of stochastic behaviors. Problem is that "meaning" is not an intrinsic property of the thing itself, but something we assign in context. That's why teleological thinking is such an easy trap to fall into. A URL encoded in UTF-8 is not inherently meaningful, but the fact that we humans invented it and assigned significance to it is what gives it meaning. An alien being without any referential context for the Internet and text encoding schemes would never find that watermark. Trying to say "oh, well this looks significant to me, therefore it really is", is nothing more than your ego projected on reality. Just like your dream, the significance exists nowhere but inside your head.

I will take you at face value for your criticisms of Stein's doc. you could be right about all of it. You are right that ID in general isn't grounded in specificity b/c the matter of WHICH God did it- is not being presented. the issue of probability of purely natural means that all that we observe is here without a single intelligent intervention is some ridiculous number. My God is proven all the more right when the most intelligent creatures available work hard to prove Him wrong-no, worse-- a non-issue. He says so. Man has a sin issue that compels him to defy. if you got kids, you know what i mean. a belief in God is not some black feather that keeps Dumbo afloat. don't be too academic to see what He is making plain.

shh...don't tell anyone: the chromosome IS one such thumbprint. my personal experience notwithstanding, take a gander at one of Lee Strobel's books. great material to spearhead an investigation into Biblical truth, facts portrayed from a devil's advocate view.

This is actually the point where we took it off the discussion thread for the original posting and into private messages (many of which are very very long), but you can see where things are really spiraling downwards.  I mean, the phony probability thing and the assumption that the Bible holds the truth is one thing.  You expect that much from a hopeless delusional idiot.  Suggesting that I read Lee Strobel...  really?  Lee Strobel?  The man who is essentially a living factory of double standards?  That Lee Strobel?  You know a guy is hopeless when his argument against the requirement for evidence is that God already said that people would demand evidence.  You skipped the part about actually showing that the idea that your god is not made up and went already to the point of your god saying stuff.

But the real sign that this person is brainwashed to far beyond the capacity for rational thought?  This sentence --
don't be too academic to see what He is making plain.
Seriously?  That is effectively a request that I shouldn't actually think at all.  Just believe.  Having reason, logic, and intellectual honesty are really not good things according to this person.  That's the difference between religion and things that are actually true.  When things are actually true, it does not matter how academic you are.  It does not matter how strict your standards are.  It does not make any difference how rigorous your methods or your process of evaluation is.  Things that are actually true will pass any of those standards.  This of course, assumes you're also being honest in setting up these standards and not making demands of the claimer that they never actually claimed in the first place (i.e. the way all creationists shift the goalposts in arguing against evolution).  The fact that you require loosening of the strings until formal logic falls out of the bag to even be open to consideration...  well, that means that what you believe is simply not true.  If what your god supposedly makes plain isn't equally apparent when you're being academically rigorous as opposed to a blind simpleton, then that means it isn't actually there.  And no, I am not the least bit sorry to break that to you.

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