Tag Archives: Naturalism

How to respond to postmodernism, relativism, subjectivism, pluralism and skepticism

Four articles from Paul Copan over at the UK site “BeThinking”. Each article responds to a different slogan that you might hear if you’re dealing with non-Christians on the street.

“That’s just your interpretation!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Gently ask, ‘Do you mean that your interpretation should be preferred over mine? If so, I’d like to know why you have chosen your interpretation over mine. You must have a good reason.’
  • Remind your friend that you are willing to give reasons for your position and that you are not simply taking a particular viewpoint arbitrarily.
  • Try to discern if people toss out this slogan because they don’t like your interpretation. Remind them that there are many truths we have to accept even if we don’t like them.
  • ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’ is a statement that is presented as a fact. If it is just an interpretation, then there is no reason to take it seriously.

More responses are here.

“You Christians are intolerant!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If you say that the Christian view is bad because it is exclusive, then you are also at that exact moment doing the very thing that you are saying is bad. You have to be exclusive to say that something is bad, since you exclude it from being good by calling it bad.
  • There is a difference, a clear difference between tolerance and truth. They are often confused. We should hold to what we believe with integrity but also support the rights of others to disagree with our viewpoint.
  • Sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true. You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. If I get onto a plane and sincerely believe that it won’t crash then it does, then my sincerity is quite hopeless. It won’t change the facts. Our beliefs, regardless of how deeply they are held, have no effect on reality.

More responses are here.

“That’s true for you, but not for me!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
  • You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
  • You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!

More responses are here.

“If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu!”

Some of his possible responses:

  • Just because there are many different religious answers and systems doesn’t automatically mean pluralism is correct.
  • If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?
  • If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

More responses are here.

And a bonus: “How do you know you’re not wrong?“.

Being a Christian is fun because you get to think about things at the same deep level that you think about anything else in life. Christianity isn’t about rituals, community and feelings. It’s about truth.

In case you want to see this in action with yours truly, check this out.

MUST-READ: The link between Darwinism, nihilism and public school shootings

Check out this amazing UK Times article. (H/T ECM)

First, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold:

“Harris wore a ‘Natural Selection’ T-shirt on the day of the killings. They made remarks on video about helping out the process of natural selection by eliminating the weak. They also professed that they had evolved to a higher level than their classmates. I was amazed at the frequent references to evolution, and that the press completely ignored that aspect of the tapes.”

[…]As the attorney for the families of six of the students killed at Columbine, the Denver lawyer Barry Arrington has come across more in a similar vein. “I read through every single page of Eric Harris’s journals; I listened to all of the audio tapes and watched the videotapes? It became evident to me that Harris consciously saw his actions as logically arising from what he had learnt about evolution. Darwinism served as his personal intellectual rationale for what he did. There cannot be the slightest doubt that Harris was a worshipper of Darwin and saw himself as acting on Darwinian principles.”

And Pekka-Eric Auvinen:

Before he embarked on his shooting spree, Auvinen posted a lengthy apologia on the internet. Styling himself a “social Darwinist”, he said that natural selection appeared not to be working any more — had maybe even gone into reverse. He had noticed that “stupid, weak-minded people reproduce faster than intelligent, strong-minded ones”. The gene pool was sure to deteriorate if society continued to guarantee the survival of the second-rate. He had pondered what to do about this problem. He understood that life was just a meaningless coincidence, the outcome of a long series of random mutations, so there might not be much point in doing anything at all. But eventually he had decided he would do his bit by becoming a natural selector, aping the pitiless indifference of nature.

Auvinen left a special plea for his motivation to be taken seriously and for the world not merely to write him off as a psychopath, or to blame cult movies, computer games, television or heavy metal music, before concluding: “No mercy for the scum of the Earth! Humanity is overrated. It’s time to put natural selection and survival of the fittest back on track.”

The article continues:

One conclusion implicit in evolutionary theory is that human existence has no ultimate purpose or special significance. Any psychologically well-adjusted person would regard this as regrettable, if true. But some people get a thrill from peering into the void and acknowledging that life is utterly meaningless.

Darwin also taught that morality has no essential authority, but is something that itself evolved — a set of sentiments or intuitions that developed from adaptive responses to environmental pressures tens of thousands of years ago. This does not merely explain the origin of morals, it totally explains them away. Whether an individual opts to obey a particular ethical precept, or to regard it as a redundant evolutionary carry-over, thus becomes a matter of personal choice. Cheerleaders celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday in colleges across America last February sang “Randomness is good enough for me, If there’s no design it means I’m free” — lines from a song by the band Scientific Gospel. Clearly they see evolution as something that emancipates them from the strict sexual morality insisted upon by their parents. But wackos such as Harris and Auvinen can just as readily interpret it as a licence to kill.

Darwin himself thought that his theory warranted racism and genocide:

Darwin looked forward to a time when Europeans and Americans would exterminate those he termed “savages”. Many of the anthropomorphous apes would also be wiped out, he predicted, and the break between man and beast would then occur “between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon; instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla”. He took a sanguine view of genocide, believing it to be imminent and inevitable. “Looking to the world at no very distant date,” he wrote to a friend in 1881, “what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

Convinced that the various races of mankind had travelled different distances down the evolutionary highway, and that two races could be fairly described as more or less evolved even when both had a track record of cultural achievement, Darwin insisted that natural selection explained why the Europeans had been able to see off serial invasions by the Ottoman Turks. Some of today’s Turks understandably resent being designated as genetically second-rate, which perhaps explains why the editor of Turkey’s most popular science magazine was instructed by his proprietor to cancel a special edition celebrating Darwin’s anniversary.

[…]Nowhere was the toxic doctrine of racial superiority more enthusiastically taken up than in the Third Reich. The Nazis believed that the Aryan race was already the most highly evolved, but could evolve further if defective genes could be eliminated. To purify the German gene pool, they decided to exterminate all the physically and mentally handicapped.

Darwin summed up his moral philosophy by saying that a man could “only follow those ideas and impulses that seem best to him”. Darwinian ideas, eugenics and its ugly sister, eugenic euthanasia, were accepted by the mainstream of the German scientific and medical professions. Indeed, so convinced were the staff of the clinic at Kaufbeuren-Irsee in Bavaria that they were acting rationally that, even after Germany’s surrender in 1945, they carried on killing handicapped people under the American occupation, until a US officer led a squad of GIs to the hospital and ordered them to desist.

The modern pro-abortion movement is rooted in the thought of Darwinian eugenicists like Margaret Sanger, who was quite explicit about weeding out the poor, the “unfit” and “inferior” races. Many people on the secular left believe that some people are not fit to live, and that these people should be weeded out by force. For example, Obama’s science czar advocates controlling the reproduction of undesirable people and that born babies are not human beings.

After you finish reading the UK Times article, check out this post over at Uncommon Descent. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

When we teach our children that their existence is an ultimately meaningless accident and that morals are arbitrary byproducts of random genetic fluctuations and mechanical necessity, should we be surprised that they place a lower value on human life than someone who is taught that all humans have inherent dignity and worth because they are made in the image of God?

[…]There are three and only three options.

1.  We can continue to fill our children’s heads with standard Darwinian theory (which Dennett rightly calls “universal acid”), understanding that at least some of them are going to put two and two together and realize that the acid has eaten through all ethical principles – and act accordingly.

2.  We can try to come up with a secular noble lie.  “OK kids.  You might have noticed that one of the implications of what I just taught you is that your lives are ultimately meaningless and all morals are arbitrary, but you must never act as if that is true because [fill in the noble lie of your choice, such as “morality is firmly grounded on societal norms or our ability to empathize with others”].

3.  We can teach our children the truth – that the universe reveals a wondrous ordered complexity that can only be accounted for by the existence of a super-intelligence acting purposefully.  And one of the implications of that conclusion is that God exists, and, reasoning further, He has established an objective system of morality that binds us all, and therefore the moral imperatives you feel so strongly are not just an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical states of your brain.

This reminds me of the essay “Men Without Chests” in C.S. Lewis’ “The Abolition of Man”. Lewis writes that moral relativists undermine objective morality, which cannot be grounded rationally by atheism, and yet they are surprised when people actually act as though moral relativism is true.

The good news is that Darwinism is false. The bad news is taxpayer money from working parents is funneled into politicized government-run schools that teach children that Darwinism is true. High taxes ensure that parents are kept away from their children, since they must both work to pay for the government-run schools. The left’s opposition to stay-at-home mothers and fathers, (e.g., sex education, abortion, unilateral divorce, same-sex marriage, subsidies for single motherhood, etc.),  ensures that the government-run schools have more influence on children than the parents do.

Video of Johnson-Provine debate on evolution vs physical evidence

In 1994, when this debate was held, intelligent design was still pretty new. This debate, more than any other resource, clarified what was at stake in the debate over origins.

Provine makes clear what follows from the truth of evolution: no free will, no objective standard of good and evil, no life after death, no meaning in life. Johnson argues that the Cambrian explosion disproves Darwinian evolution, and the only reason why Darwinian evolution is widely-accepted is because materialism is pre-supposed.

If materialism is pre-supposed, then only atheistic answers to the origins question are allowed, so naturally Darwinism wins – it has to win once you make a philosophical assumption that matter is all there is. (An assumption contradicted by the big bang theory, which requires the creation of all matter from nothing.

Here’s a summary of the debate:

Debate before an audience between two professors on the naturalistic vs. the theistic way of understanding human existence.

William Provine, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, cites evidence supporting neo-Darwinian theory and argues that microevolutionary processes account for the origin of all life. He asserts that modern evolutionary theory is incompatible with belief in God; that there are no absolute moral and ethical laws; that free will does not exist; and that human character is merely a result of heredity and environment.

Phillip Johnson, Professor of Law at the University of California in Berkeley, agrees that modern neo-Darwinian theory is atheistic and scientific; however, as a general theory it is a philosophical dogma that is inconsistent with the evidence.

Provine and Johnson debate basic questions: Do we owe our existence to a creator? Can the blind watchmaker of natural selection take the place of God? Moderator is Timothy Jackson, Dept. of Religious Studies, Stanford University.

And here’s a couple of clips from the opening. (H/T Uncommon Descent via ECM)

The rest are  linked here.

This is very much worth watching, especially for atheists who typically are not aware that evolution rests on a philsophical assumption that is assumed, and that contradicts astrophysics. That has to stop. And the best way to stop it is by calling it out into the open using debates like this one.

For those of you behind a firewall, here are text excerpts.

And don’t forget about my recent post about the role of pre-suppositions like the pre-supposition of naturalism in historical Jesus research. The post contains debates where this is actually discussed as well.

Science News reports that habitable planets less common than previously thought

Story from Science News. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

According to the most popular formation theory, planets coalesce from a swirling disk of gas and dust that surrounds young stars. Since the disk rotates in the same direction as the star, the planets spawned by the disk should revolve in the same direction. But in an overcrowded planetary system, where a gravitational game of billiards is all but inevitable, orbits can get scrambled. A close encounter between planetary siblings can push one body outward while flinging the other inward, elongating and tilting the inner planet’s orbit.

In this scenario, the solar system may have been unusually lucky. Either it avoided catastrophic gravitational encounters between massive planets or it suffered such interactions so long ago that most of the planets had the chance to resettle into nearly circular orbits with little or no tilt, says Frédéric Pont of the University of Exeter in England.

“The presence of advanced life on Earth may be contingent on our planetary system having avoided the brunt of planet-planet scatter,” keeping Earth on a circular, Goldilocks-style orbit—neither too hot nor too cold for life as we know it, he speculates.

The circularity of the orbit is crucial for maintaining liquid water at the surface. If the the planet’s orbit is too eccentric, then the temperature variations will either freeze the water, or evaporate it into the atmosphere. Either condition is fatal to complex life.

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New video takes you inside the cell to see how DNA is replicated

Wow, this is pretty! (H/T Uncommon Descent via ECM)

If you need to understand how to explain this video in the context of intelligent design, see my previous posts on the building blocks of life and the origin of biological information. I find it useful to draw up the probability calculations for your friends. It’s all explained in the latter article. Fun!