Wednesday, September 25, 2013


"Can omniscient God, who
Knows the future, find
The omnipotence to
Change His future mind?"
--Karen Owens

"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof"
--Christopher Hitchens

On two recent occasions I have walked down a hall at work and heard a Pastor talking to a group of children about science and the Bible. The first occasion was a rant against Bill Nye the Science Guy for his view that people who believe in Creationism are stupid. Of course Dr Nye said nothing of the sort, but actually said that teaching Creationism to children as fact is inappropriate because of the lack of evidence supporting it. See for yourself:

The second occasion was a lesson on Noah's Ark and the Great Flood. According to the pastor, before the Flood there was a canopy of water in the sky with enough water to cover the whole earth. Even the highest mountain was under at least 35 feet of water.

A rather astute kid asked "Was Mt Everest covered in water?" 

The pastor realized how absurd it would be for him to say that even Mt Everest was covered in 35 feet of water and came up with the following explanation: "You know, I think that at this time in history the mountains were not as high as they are today. So, I think Mt Everest probably became taller after the flood."

That's right folks, this pastor actually believes and teaches children that Mt Everest was hundreds, if not thousands of feet shorter just 4000 years ago, and god flooded the whole earth with a canopy of water, which has since dissipated.

Now, I don't really care if he believes in the Flood or not. The thing which interests me the most is his reasoning for saying that Mt Everest was not as tall 4000 years ago. This is an ad hoc rationalization which he uses to justify a belief which he has taken on faith, rather than evidence. And upon being presented evidence which would challenge his sincere belief (namely that Mt Everest is really freaking tall, so that would require a lot of water to cover), he has to come up with some explanation to keep his belief at least somewhat tenable within his conflicted mind.

But does his view that Mt Everest grew hundreds or thousands of feet in such short order sound any less ridiculous than any other assertion made about a global flood? How does this claim stand against current geological evidence of how mountains form?

These sorts of rationalizations are common among religious people. For instance, it is generally accepted by scholars that there is no evidence which corroborates with the Book of Mormon assertion that Native Americans are descendants of Ancient Jews. None. But this doesn't stop some Mormons from coming up with explanations of how the Jewish DNA got mixed up with the Mongoloid DNA (actual Native American ancestors) and now it is really hard to find their Jewish ancestry. 

Or that the Book of Mormon explanation of the Hill Cumorah does not fit the geological description of the hill which Joseph Smith claimed to be the Hill Cumorah (where the Book of Mormon was allegedly found), so there must be a second Hill Cumorah somewhere in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

You see how this works, right?

This method of argument is called "moving the goal post". As a claim is refuted, an additional claim is added which explains away any refutation. This can go on indefinitely, and it can be as difficult to detect as it is dishonest.

This brings me to logical proofs for the existence of god, such as: the Ontological argument, the Kalam Cosmological argument, or the Teleological Argument for god (aka "TAG"). I will not go through each of these arguments in detail for the sake of time (maybe another post), but the gist of these "proofs" is that one can show through logical reasoning that a god must exist.

Setting aside any flaws in these arguments (such as unsupported premises), is such a proof genuine evidence for the existence of a thing? Is presenting an argument which describes a need for some thing to exist equivalent to demonstrating that that thing actually exists? 

If I present an argument that the only way for me to get to work is through teleportation, does this prove that teleportation is possible? If I present an argument that the only way for shoes to be made is by fairies entering my home and crafting shoes, does this prove the existence of fairies? The answer to all these questions (and more!) is a resounding "No".

Ultimately, logical arguments can be fun thought exercises, but they cannot prove the physical or metaphysical existence of anything.


Brittish Creationists Versus American Evolution (Full Documentary) 

Mr Deity on Creationism:

Bill Nye on Bill Maher:

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