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Thread: I need help debating a creationist

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    A fundamentalist/creationist once asked me how I would explain it if someone found a watch in a cave that previously had been unexplored. I asked him if anyone had ever found a watch in a place where previous human presence had been decisively ruled out. He was dumbstruck and never brought up the topic with me again.
    Of course a plausible explanation is that a non-human but non-supernatural intelligence created it. If we found a 4,000,000-year-old clearly-artificial object buried in a crater on the Moon, the first explanation is extraterrestrials, not The Big G.
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    Okay, Mr. Creationist, let’s say that we manage to die on the same day, and stand in judgment before God. The origin of life is the topic.


    I get to say “I think the diversity of life is a process that began billions of years ago, that it works subtly and slowly, corrects itself, produces different stuff that just might be better. It’s fascinating.”


    Now, do you really want to follow that with “I think that you did it with magic just a few thousand years ago, and faked things to confuse guys like him over there.”

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    Another factor to bear in mind is what has been recently discovered about exoplanets: there are lots of them, and many could be potentially conducive to life. This is an important discovery, even if expected, because if had we instead discovered that planets were very rare (for some unanticipated reason), and that Earthlike planets essentially never occurred (again unanticipated), then we might have been forced to conclude that perhaps there were only billions or maybe even millions of Earthlike planets in the universe, who knows. But if so, then the story of how life, and ultimately intelligent life, came to exist on Earth would have to be a story that invoked some degree of inevitability, or at least, we could not be looking for an incredibly unlikely story. In short, probabilistic claims of ID people might have presented some significant challenges.

    As it happens, however, we now think it likely that there could be in excess of 1022 planets in the universe that could potentially support intelligent life. That's quite a game-changer, because it implies that the story we are now looking for, the explanation for how we came to be here, is much more likely to be an incredibly unlikely story. We are suddenly interested in issues more akin to what the person did to become the best Olympic swimmer of all time, not what some person did to learn how to swim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    Another factor to bear in mind is what has been recently discovered about exoplanets: there are lots of them, and many could be potentially conducive to life. This is an important discovery, even if expected, because if had we instead discovered that planets were very rare (for some unanticipated reason), and that Earthlike planets essentially never occurred (again unanticipated), then we might have been forced to conclude that perhaps there were only billions or maybe even millions of Earthlike planets in the universe, who knows. But if so, then the story of how life, and ultimately intelligent life, came to exist on Earth would have to be a story that invoked some degree of inevitability, or at least, we could not be looking for an incredibly unlikely story. In short, probabilistic claims of ID people might have presented some significant challenges.
    Agreed, and I've wondered what would happen if it became obvious that our universe happened to be full of planets. But, to attempt to argue their view -- I wish some of them would join us to help us see their view -- it's not silly to say that we might be the most, or one of a handful, advanced lifeforms in the universe. At one time, thanks to a few astronomers (not mainstream), many people held Martians might exist, which helped turn a Halloween radio broadcast into something traumatic for many. Yet we now are confident that the only intelligent Martians we will find will be us if we go there.

    I suspect that finding simple life forms on other planets or on moons will not make much of any impact on their thinking; why wouldn't a Grand Gardner not put flowers elsewhere? So, I don't see that YEC will be made to look "silly" somehow, and a little less logical isn't likely going to change many, if any, believers. Fishing on Europa would just be fun and not religiously important, I suspect.
    Planetary beings (non-heavenly), however, as in Contact, would likely have an impact.

    As it happens, however, we now think it likely that there could be in excess of 1022 planets in the universe that could potentially support intelligent life.
    That seems a little high, but cutting it to just millions of trillions doesn't discount your point much.
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  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Agreed, and I've wondered what would happen if it became obvious that our universe happened to be full of planets. But, to attempt to argue their view -- I wish some of them would join us to help us see their view -- it's not silly to say that we might be the most, or one of a handful, advanced lifeforms in the universe.
    That's true, we really don't know how to count that number, but the key point is, many ID types try to argue it is very unlikely to get life on Earth, based on the various probabilities they assess. But we now see that argument misses the mark by many many orders of magnitude (1010? 1020?) because we are not trying to explain life on Earth, we are trying to explain life in the universe, and that's an awful lot of Earths. It's quite a game-changer that they don't seem to have recognized. The Kepler mission and the Hubble deep field together blew their argument out of the water, basically, yet their arguments are still pre-Bruno in how they visualize the Earth as unique.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2018-Apr-29 at 02:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    That's true, we really don't know how to count that number, but the key point is, many ID types try to argue it is very unlikely to get life on Earth, based on the various probabilities they assess. But we now see that argument misses the mark by many many orders of magnitude (1010? 1020?) because we are not trying to explain life on Earth, we are trying to explain life in the universe, and that's an awful lot of Earths. It's quite a game-changer that they don't seem to have recognized. The Kepler mission and the Hubble deep field together blew their argument out of the water, basically, yet their arguments are still pre-Bruno in how they visualize the Earth as unique.
    Yep. It’s easy to argue that a Royal Straight Flush won’t be dealt if you’re only playing a few hands (odds are 1: 649,739)—I never got one, but given 10^20 hands, there should be about 154 trillion of them. So even if the hands are only dealt on only those 1-in-a-million planets that are conducive for life’s formation, that’s still 154 million Royal Straight Flushes. And I'm ignoring how evolution has the ability to put aces up its sleeve.

    But I suspect it’s worse than just their statistical claims since it’s easier to argue that an Intelligent Designer would prefer to see life in a percentage of those planets; it looks dumb not to. Sentient life forms are trickier, but it’s not a huge stretch to assume a strong likelihood.
    Last edited by George; 2018-Apr-30 at 05:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Yep. It’s easy to argue that a Royal Straight Flush won’t be dealt if you’re only playing a few hands (odds are 1: 649,739)—I never got one, but given 10^20 hands, there should be about 154 trillion of them. So even if the hands are only dealt on only those 1-in-a-million planets that are conducive for life’s formation, that’s still 154 million Royal Straight Flushes. And I'm ignoring how evolution has the ability to put aces up its sleeve.

    But I suspect it’s worse than just their statistical claims since it’s easier to argue that an Intelligent Designer would prefer to see life in a percentage of those planets; it looks dumb not to. Sentient life forms are trickier, but it’s not a huge stretch to assume a strong likelihood.
    It's funny really to argue about the probability of life or intelligent life. The idea of other planets having life is not really whether it's likely, but how would we know? There was a sweep a few years ago, Carl Sagan's idea I think, to look with a satellite or probe for signs of life here and they found none. Maybe one day we will see a signal and that would be big news here but at least several light years away and therefore whole lifetimes away in terms of travel. And what would in prove in this debate? that evolution could occur elsewhere or the designer had two goes? It's a joke. Scientists cannot disprove a supernatural agency but creationists cannot challenge the building of the evolution model with ridiculous maths that they do not understand. The ones I have met also quote old testament lines about how men are superior to women and stuff like that, often found in current time extreme versions of religions. Debating is usually a total waste. Sometimes I feel you have to take a stand when these people get any kind of power through the ballot box. But maybe that's too political.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    I still say, when intellectual stop trying to use intelligent design to fashion society or improve society is when creationists will start to see the argument for evolution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    But I suspect it’s worse than just their statistical claims since it’s easier to argue that an Intelligent Designer would prefer to see life in a percentage of those planets; it looks dumb not to.
    I don't think ID folks would find it useful to their cause if someday life were found to be common on exoplanets, or if life was found in the ice of Europa or something. Yes it makes the numbers trickier for evolution and might motivate people to claim a designer is needed to get so much life everywhere, but most IDers seem to want to base their position on the specialness of humanity, not the commonness of it! Hence the problem with all those planets, it forces IDers to choose their poison: either life is quite common, or evolution is allowed to vastly fail. You just can't have it both ways, as hard as they may try.
    Last edited by Ken G; 2018-May-01 at 05:20 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    It's funny really to argue about the probability of life or intelligent life. The idea of other planets having life is not really whether it's likely, but how would we know?
    And that hits the nail squarely on the head!

    Being drawn into the trap of whether exo-life exists or not, leads straight back into the Creationist's domain of endless philosphical debates about the existence of Truth in the universe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G
    Yes it makes the numbers trickier for evolution and might motivate people to claim a designer is needed to get so much life everywhere, but most IDers seem to want to base their position on the specialness of humanity, not the commonness of it!
    The objective fact though is that at the moment, humanity is 'special' ... (just not 'special' in the sense of occupying a privileged position in some predetermined master plan encompassing the universe), so there is something to say about the limited dimensions of science's current empirically determined sample space vs the anticipated outcomes of thought experiments conducted in a vastly larger sample space of hypothesized habitable exo-environments(?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G
    Hence the problem with all those planets, it forces IDers to choose their poison: either life is quite common, or evolution is allowed to vastly fail. You just can't have it both ways, as hard as they may try.
    Well, this may step outside the IDer's specific argument space, but the numbers of 'habitable' exo-environments is still only loosely correlated, by speculative inferences, with the emergence of self replicating prebiotic molecules, (errored and resource constrained thereon). If the conditions leading to this functionality are themselves however, critically dependent on mind-boggling, astronomical-scale complexity, and the results of prebiotic 'trials' remain beyond science's (temporary) observational reaches, (see my comment above), then 'poison' may not necessarily be the only alternative(s) ... especially when thought experiments are at the core of the argument(?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Maybe one day we will see a signal and that would be big news here but at least several light years away and therefore whole lifetimes away in terms of travel. And what would in prove in this debate? that evolution could occur elsewhere or the designer had two goes? It's a joke.
    A signal would give us something more than just life forms but a clear sign of intelligence. I doubt lower life forms would be a problem for 6k creationists but life that might have souls presents a problem.

    Scientists cannot disprove a supernatural agency but creationists cannot challenge the building of the evolution model with ridiculous maths that they do not understand.
    Nicely put.

    The ones I have met also quote old testament lines about how men are superior to women and stuff like that, often found in current time extreme versions of religions. Debating is usually a total waste.
    This is also true internally within a number of congregations, which is why there are so many denominations. I've seen great stress caused by debate on the color choice for new carpet. But often the key tenets are not in question and, more importantly, most likely have had one or more very powerful personal experiences that anchor them to their faith, though, being human, they aren't always beacons of light.
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  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I don't think ID folks would find it useful to their cause if someday life were found to be common on exoplanets, or if life was found in the ice of Europa or something. Yes it makes the numbers trickier for evolution and might motivate people to claim a designer is needed to get so much life everywhere, but most IDers seem to want to base their position on the specialness of humanity, not the commonness of it! Hence the problem with all those planets, it forces IDers to choose their poison: either life is quite common, or evolution is allowed to vastly fail. You just can't have it both ways, as hard as they may try.
    Yes, ID itself should find it troubling to see intervention in so many places. They might rationalize it with the idea of an Intelligent Gardner with many gardens, I suppose. But it is the specialness of humanity, as you mention, that gets to the underlying foundation to their views, IMO. Arguing for intervention on the micro level implies a bigger argument for human forms. The crux, I think, goes to the view that mankind was given a "living soul" (KJV) and the beliefs associated with the huge divine efforts to save souls will not easily transfer well to other exo-souls, though there are ways to make that work, but I may be one of the few that hold such a view.
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  13. #73
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    there again you can choose your ID scenario: suppose there are two competing IDs with a solar system each, or thousands, and their game is to wait for interstellar travel or communication and then watch the battles. I think there's a series of major movies along those lines. Why assume just one ID? It's that pesky anthropomorphism again.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    ID is, in my opinion, just creationism hiding in an attempt to sneak it past courts which believe in the US Constitution by camouflaging a particular religious view under pseudoscience. While I think creationists are wrong on religious grounds, at least they’re honest in stating that their position is explicitly based in religious belief.
    Last edited by swampyankee; 2018-May-03 at 09:27 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    ID is, in my opinion, just creationism hiding in an attempt to sneak it past courts which believe in the US Constitution by camouflaging a particular religious view under pseudoscience. While I think creationists are wrong on religious grounds, at least they’re honest in stating that their position is explicitly based in religious belief.
    Yes and yes
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    Yes, it's easy to unmask the religious elements of ID. All you have to do is ask this: would you favor textbooks to include alternative theories involving ID scenarios that expressly contradict the Bible in very clear terms? And there's your answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    I still say, when intellectual stop trying to use intelligent design to fashion society or improve society is when creationists will start to see the argument for evolution.
    That's a steep price to pay to try to convince cranks.

    Ken Ham was asked in his debate with Bill Nye "What would make you change your mind?" about evolution; condensing and paraphrasing his reply, he said, "Nothing would change my mind."

    There you have it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    ID is, in my opinion, just creationism hiding in an attempt to sneak it past courts which believe in the US Constitution by camouflaging a particular religious view under pseudoscience.
    I agree that's their plan but I don't doubt their sincerity. The ASA (American Scientific Affiliation) has many prominent scientists (e.g. Francis Collins - leader of the human genome mapping project) as members including some scientists that favor ID. I've seen a couple of presentations, at one meeting at least, that demonstrate fantastic functions of the human body on selection by molecular sizing, for instance, where one could use the analogy of discovering a watch and expecting designer for it.

    The problem, of course, is that regardless of all the object evidence they can present for fantastic processes, the concluding claim for ID is still subjective and a bit too subjective. The interesting thing I find about ID is that their claims for an Intelligence aren't truly scientific but are also not.... silly. [Am I wearing anyone out with "silly"? I'm open to a better term that has appropriate sizzle beyond "unacceptable" or "improbable". The term needs to be both accurate and penetrating for someone stuck with pride, IMO.]
    Last edited by George; 2018-May-03 at 08:19 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    That's a steep price to pay to try to convince cranks.

    Ken Ham was asked in his debate with Bill Nye "What would make you change your mind?" about evolution; condensing and paraphrasing his reply, he said, "Nothing would change my mind."

    There you have it.
    Which loops perfectly back to some of the advice given early in thread: Don't engage in such a debate, it is pointless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Ken Ham was asked in his debate with Bill Nye "What would make you change your mind?" about evolution; condensing and paraphrasing his reply, he said, "Nothing would change my mind."

    There you have it.
    Yes, and it was dumb of Ken Ham to debate science with a scientist, especially an M.E.! , when the foundational arguments are strictly subjective. He is a fish (of the Subjective Sea) out of water who doesn't realize it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Which loops perfectly back to some of the advice given early in thread: Don't engage in such a debate, it is pointless.
    Yes, though it's hard to qualify their beliefs prior to engaging.

    When religious or strong philosophical beliefs are at the root of their convictions, then there may be a place one can send them. A few years ago I was somewhat active in a religious forum where these folks (6k Creationists) are in mass (perhaps a pun here). There were a few folks who were open to at least some scientific argument knowing that it could impact one of their specific interpretations. But the majority were not so open and of the two forums -- the largest ones I could find -- where I was active, the science forum sections for both were shutdown due to forum courtesy rule violations, as you might expect. [Not me of course .]

    However, I checked and I see that it has come back to at least one of those forums, so that a 6k Creationist, who appears somewhat open to learning, could see the arguments that include both science and religious interpretations. When an alternative interpretation, especially if literal, presents a plausible round peg then they no longer must pound their square peg in the round hole of science.
    Last edited by George; 2018-May-03 at 08:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    That's a steep price to pay to try to convince cranks.

    Ken Ham was asked in his debate with Bill Nye "What would make you change your mind?" about evolution; condensing and paraphrasing his reply, he said, "Nothing would change my mind."

    There you have it.
    I'm thinking that you may be misunderstanding me. I believe there are too many variables for humans to purposely, design a study, that could be implemented, that would improve society. Yet the consensus is, that we will use science based decisions for making policy decisions. All I can say, is that it is better to let societal evolution run its course over many thousands of years. I am not advocating for anarchy. I like the current system of democracy because it takes into account many points of view, which closer emulates evolution. There are always decisions to be made, so we always need government.
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    In to what category do those like Richard Milton & Graham Hancock fall? They are not creationists, religious, IDers or UFOlogists. Milton wrote "The Facts of Life: Shattering the Myth of Darwinism", & yet believes that homo sapiens has been around for 10 million years!
    Last edited by wd40; 2018-May-05 at 06:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wd40 View Post
    In what category do those like Richard Milton fall? They are not creationists, religious or IDers. Yet Milton wrote "The Facts of Life: Shattering the Myth of Darwinism", & yet believes that homo sapiens has been around for 10s of millions of years?
    I would say a scientific ATMer.

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