Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Irony of the Intelligent Believer

Redneck with a MohawkAlthough I believe Vox Day is profoundly uninformed (very uncharacteristic of Vox) about the inerrancy of Scripture, I regularly enjoy his commentary on WorldNetDaily and find him to usually be quite knowledgeable and entertaining. Perhaps it is because he is something of a kindred spirit. After all, how many Christian libertarians, who are both members of a Southern Baptist church and Mensa, can there be out there?

[On the very unlikely chance that Vox happens by this blog, I have provided further explanation of my disagreement with him below]

Getting on with the topic of this post, I would like to point out one commentary that I found to be particularly insightful. He answers questions that I, too, have been often asked and was sadly inept at answering.

Excerpts from Vox's article The Irony of the Intelligent Believer:
    How can you – an intelligent individual with an expensive education – possibly take seriously what is at best archaic mythology? How can someone who is otherwise considered to be smart subscribe to what amounts to nothing more than fairytales dressed up as history? And how can anyone who is clearly cognizant of Science ever declare allegiance to its great antithesis, Superstition?

    The first, and most obvious, answer is that one obviously can because others of historically remarkable intelligence have. There is no shortage of devout Christians on the list of mankind's most legendary geniuses – many of whom are still rightly revered by atheists and agnostics today.

    The second answer is a utilitarian one. Science is a whore. Her very essence precludes certainty, which is both a genuine strength and a grave weakness. It is a strength because the scientific method of testing hypotheses encourages a continual seeking after the truth, to which no one who lives by a book that declares "seek and ye shall find" should object. It is a weakness because the inherent mutability of science is at odds with the human desire for objective guidelines by which to live. This conflict tends to repeatedly create faux-sciences, which, however outmoded, are clung to with all the diehard fervor of the religious fanatic.

    As for the secular humanists who are second to none in waving the black-and-white flag of Science, the ongoing demographic collapse of their cherished equalitarian societies in every Western nation is proving their theory of religion's deleterious effect on society to be as errant and intellectually bankrupt as Freud's is with regard to the individual. Theirs is a rotten fruit indeed.

    [Third] From a utilitarian perspective, then, it makes a tremendous amount of sense for an individual or a society to live by the precepts of the Bible, even if one does so sans belief. This is, I would argue, the most purely rational position, and indeed, famous non-believers such as Voltaire and the 18th-century deists so beloved by modern atheists – as long as they stay safely buried in the 1700s – would agree.

    The fourth answer is reciprocal action. Newton's third law states that all forces occur in pairs, and that paired forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. Even when I was an agnostic, I marveled at the hatred and energy expended on Christians by non-Christians. I could not understand the cognitive dissonance demonstrated by the so-called experts in their rabid attempts to discredit all things even nominally related to Christianity – the nominally Jewish Anti-Defamation League's attack on the Ten Commandments being only the most ironic example of late – as well as their ready willingness to distort and even fabricate history.

Vox’s “theory” on Biblical inerrancy is uncomfortably similar to “implied Docetism” discussed by John H. Gerstner in his work titled “Biblical Inerrancy. Recognizing Vox’s lingual objections, a better theory for him to hold is as follows:

The Bible is without error in all that it teaches, on every subject, in the original manuscripts. The original Hebrew and Greek autograph copies of the Bible were inerrant. Certainly the copies of copies which have come down to us contain errors common to the craft of the copyist as do all English versions. However, with diligent study, we can ascertain the original words of the inspired writers. Consequently, the doctrine of inerrancy applies to the biblical text in our day as well -- insofar as the Bible has been accurately translated.

I would expect Vox would eminently enjoy the intellectual treatments of this topic, as do I, by the “Old Princeton” scholars, particularly B.B. Warfield’s The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. (Generally recognized as on of the best studies ever done on the subject.)

Oh, and Vox … while I’m at it … be more classy and treat a lady (Michelle) with a little more chivalry … a bit of humility wouldn’t hurt you none either! ;-D

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Dying Nothing Monster

Many scientists have a problem with the EVIDENCE they have discovered as it relates to the Big Bang, and therefore have ventured into the metaphysical arena that they claim to reject. Most often they claim that an eternal nothing suddenly and without cause went BANG!

By ascribing "eternal" characteristics to the universe, they do not escape the logical necessity for a FIRST CAUSE to the current manifestation of the universe. Furthermore, you only push the debate back into a time (as it were) where there are no observable or calculable EVIDENCES. Without evidence, you are now left with nothing more than BELIEF. Add this to the scientific fact that for order to arise from chaos, it is necessary to determine the reason why this order came to be and persists contrary to known entropic laws of the universe.

Just to make sure everyone understands this completely. The best argument scientists have against ID (cosmological, not biological) is that they have a BELIEF that is without EVIDENCE of an ETERNAL universe (eternality, by the way is an attribute of God) -- that without cause or volition – initiated the Big Bang. Wow! And I thought I was the one with a FAITH-based metaphysic!

It is clear that many scientists have closed-mindedly accepted an atheistic religious dogma that is LOGICALLY inconsistent with their own understanding of the universe and which allows them to attempt to undermine, without merit, the possibility of the existence of God. Instead, they would rather say, “Nothing Did It!” Many scientists currently worship a “Dying Nothing Monster” rolling dice with no spots.

I never really intended for my blog to become so overwhelmingly Intelligent Design centric and would rather explore some other areas, particularly politics in the future. I will continue to post on ID from time to time [I currently have a post or two in the works], but mostly intend to explore other interests in the coming months.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No Dots, No Dice, No Sense, No Chance

No Dot DiceIntelligent Design has been criticized in comments on this blog for claiming that “God did it.” This is a straw-man fallacy about what the Christian proponents of ID also believe rather than what the essence of what ID is. (There are a large number of non-Christian and even non-theistic proponents of ID with whom I share a common cause.) It has been suggested that we ask, “What did it?” I believe what the person asking really meant was “What, other than God, did it?” In other words, their mind is closed to any solution in which God is part of the answer. While I am willing to debate upon the level playing field that God may or may not be part of origins, I will not concede that God was not involved in origins because I see overwhelming evidence and reason for the contrary. Therefore, why don’t we see if we can know what did NOT do it.

Most scientists believe that “something other than God did it,” referring to origins, and they believe that “something” is CHANCE.

R.C. Sproul has the following to say in his book titled, Not a Chance:
    We begin by asking the simple but critically important question, What is chance? Because this question is so critical, however, I think it important to first to explain why the definition of chance is so crucial.

    Words are capable of more than one meaning in their usage. Such words are highly susceptible to the unconscious or unintentional commissions of the fallacy of equivocation. Equivocation occurs when a word changes its meaning (usually subtly) in the course of an argument. We illustrate via the classic “cat with nine tails” argument.

    Premise A. No cat has eight tails.
    Premise B. One cat has one more tail than no cat.
    Conclusion: One cat has nine tails.

    We see in this “syllogism” that the word cat subtly changes its meaning. In Premise A “no cat” signifies a negation about cats. It is a universal negative. In Premise B “no cat” is suddenly given a positive status as if it represented a group of comparative realities. Premise B assumes already that cats have one tail per cat. If we had two boxes, with one box empty and the second containing a single cat, we would expect to find one more cat in that box than in the empty one. If cats normally have one tail, we would expect one more cat’s tail in one box than the other.

    The conclusion of this syllogism rests on the shift from negative to positive in the phrase no cat. The conclusion rests upon equivocation in the first premise. “No cat” is understood to mean a class of cats (positively) that actually possesses eight tails.

    Such equivocation frequently occurs with the use of the word chance. We find this in the writings of philosophers, theologians, scientists – indeed pervasively. Here’s how it works.

    On the one hand the word chance refers to mathematical possibilities. Here chance is merely a formal word with no material content. It is a pure abstraction. For example, if we calculate the odds of a coin-flip, we speak of the chances of the coin’s being turned up heads or tails. Given that the coin doesn’t stand on its edge, what are the chances that it will turn up heads or tails? The answer, of course, is 100%. There are only two options: heads and tails. It is 100% certain that one of the two will prevail. This is a bona fide either/or situation, with no tertium quid possible.

    If we state the question in a different manner, we get different odds or chances. If we ask, “What are the chances that the coin will turn heads?” then our answer will be “Fifty-fifty.”

    Suppose we complicate the matter by including a series of circumstances and ask, “What are the odds that the coin will turn up heads ten times in a row?” The mathematicians and odds-makers can figure that out. In the unlikely event that the coin turns up heads nine consecutive times, what are the odds that it will turn up heads the tenth time? In terms of the series, I don’t know. [1 in 1024 attempts of 10 consecutive flips] In terms of the single event, however, the odds are still fifty-fifty.

    Our next question is crucial. How much influence or effect does chance have on the coin’s turning up heads? My answer is categorically, “None whatsoever.” I say that emphatically because there is no possibility, real or imagined, that chance can have any influence on the outcome of the coin-toss.

    Why not? Because chance has no power to do anything. It is cosmically, totally, consummately impotent. Again, I must justify my dogmatism on this point. I say that chance has no power to do anything because it simply is not anything. It has no power because it has no being.

    I’ve just ventured into the realm of ontology, into metaphysics, if you please. Chance is not an entity. It is not a thing that has power to affect other things. It is not a thing that has power to affect other things. It is no thing. To be more precise, it is nothing. Nothing cannot do something. Nothing is not. It has no “is-ness.” I was technically incorrect even to say that chance is nothing. Better to say that chance is not.

    What are the chances that chance can do anything? Not a chance. It has no more chance to do something than nothing has to do something.
Dr. Sproul does a magnificent job at explaining the ridiculousness of change having causative power in origins. With this in mind, consider this if you will:

You have a completely empty room, there is NOTHING in it. What are the chances that in a room with nothing in it, there is a pair of dice showing seven? Okay, so you will concede, for whatever reason, that the room is not completely empty (how it is empty and not-empty at the same time or how it got that way doesn’t matter for the sake of argument you say) and it has an infinite number of monkeys in it, but it is empty you say. You will also concede, for whatever reason, that this empty room that is full of monkeys has been that way from all eternity. Furthermore, you concede that those monkeys have been rolling spotless dice that entire time. Even after all those illogical concessions (which Christians have been apt to make) the possibility of ever rolling a seven with dice that have no dots is still zero and becomes even more absurd with each unreasonable concession that is removed.

Why have we allowed the world to push us to such absurd limits? Why have Christians allowed the world, modern science, to bully us into such absurd leaps of illogic and abandonment of common sense? It all makes about as much sense as throwing dice without dots and expecting to get seven dots showing.

To the whole ridiculous absurdity I say, “No Dice!” Obviously, when scientist make the claim that “chance did it”, what they are really saying is that “Nothing did it!” Next “something” please…

I will hug it and squeeze it and call it George!

Little Atheist TrollSome Christian bloggers may not look at it this way, but I consider it immensely flattering to have my very own atheist troll hanging around my blog. It confirms that what I am writing is relevant and impactful enough to elicit another person to spend their precious time attempting to refute what I have to write about. Furthermore, the troll’s input has provided with me with enough ideas for future blog posts to last at least a year or more. Even better, my troll seem to be blog-house broken and doesn’t go around messing up the blog-carpet with senseless profanity. It [my troll] generally just sticks to caustic insults but occasionally asks a tough question that deserves an answer. Not just a flippant unconsidered response, but a truly researched and intellectual answer. I intend to attempt do so.

Unfortunately, the proper care and feeding of my troll requires more time than I rightly have to devote to it without neglecting more important matters like family and career. I have set as a reasonable goal for myself to create one major post every other week but no more than one per week. I might respond to a comment about my posts if I feel strongly about it, or I can respond quickly with little effort, or if I have a little extra time at the moment. More than likely, I will research the topic and provide a major response in a future blog post.

I have to give a heartfelt thank you to all my blog friends who have taken the time to troll-sit for me! I sincerely appreciate your contribution and improvement to this ministry. I will attempt to compensate you for your trouble with a link to your blog.

Here are some guidelines I hope to maintain on the Deathrow Bodine Blog. These guidelines are quite free right now and I hope that I am able to keep it that way.
  • Be nice to MY troll and Pecadillo will not kick YOUR cat.
  • Only Pyromaniac and Centuri0n are permitted to go about starting fires, it’s expected of them so what am I to do?
  • Please try to keep comments on topic and be systematic about your responses. (That is directed at my nice troll, but applies to all.)
  • Profanity, including abbreviations and coded profanity, is not required for intellectual debate. It will result in your entire post being deleted. If you repeatedly violate this rule, then any subsequent posts will be deleted regardless of content or lack of profanity.
  • While I highly value spelling and grammar, this hillbilly is not very good at either. As long as someone’s post is legible, don’t post comments about their intellectual competence based upon misspellings and grammar mistakes. I will likely delete these regardless of the rest of the posts value.
  • Anonymous posts are allow for now, if and only if, you use some form of signature at the bottom of your post to let us know when we are talking to the same person. Thanks go to my troll for using “DC” at the bottom of its posts.
  • Try to keep your comments relatively short. If you have a large amount to say, then post it on your blog and feel free to place a link in the comments here. Gratuitous links that are not on topic will be deleted. I will leave a lot of leeway here, but don’t complain if I delete yours. If the post would not fit the “theme” of your blog, then feel free to go ahead and leave a long post here. Don’t abuse this privilege.
  • Posts with links of others who I find in anyway disagreeable will be deleted. I leave plenty of leeway for you to disagree with me here, including limited quoting others in your post.
Please let me know if you think I am being unreasonable with these guidelines. If you have tips for how to make this a better blog, I am certainly willing to listen to good advice.


Deathrow Bodine