Monday, August 14, 2006

Disqualifying oneself from serious discussion

OK, one more negative piece, and then I'm moving on.

I was listening to Christian radio on the way home from my volunteer work today. D. James Kennedy was having an anti-evolution show with some guest. Both men call themselves "doctor", a title in stark contrast to how dependable anything was they said. There were the same old attacks on evolution through thermodynamics and calculating enormous odds against the self-assembly of human DNA. Of course counter-arguments to these are easy to find. They've even been easy for me to think of myself in the 31 years since I got my physics degree and 26 years since I got my medical degree. The thermodynamic argument against evolution hasn't changed a bit during that time, and throughout that time it has had the flaw of saying that if it were true, not only would thermodynamics preclude evolution, but it would also preclude the growth of any seed into a tree or egg into a human being. Information does not get around this. There is no term for information in the second law of thermodynamics. Whoever doesn't trust me can read the same thing in Kenneth Miller's book Finding Darwin's God.

Then there is this calculation that the odds against a protein or DNA molecule coming together by chance is some astronomical number. The problem with that is the math assumes this happened in one step from some soup of components coming together. It was more than one step. It wasn't random collisions of components. One can read up on theories about what did happen.

The firmest conclusion I have from listening to such a presentation is that these men have made no effort at all to look at the rebuttals against their arguments. They recommended Michael Behe's book as if there is nothing wrong with it, yet critiques of that book are easy to find and full of valid points. Knowing what I know about this presentation, why would I even believe these men if they said water is wet?

In fact, I don't believe anything they say. Maybe that's a reason I listen. If men like these say something, I know I don't have to take it seriously. I can just listen to see if evangelicals still sound the same. Yes, they do. They have nothing new for me to ponder.

In turn, I know that I can't help anyone who takes them seriously. I tried giving longer explanations of why thermodynamics isn't a problem for evolution on message boards in the past. It just can't be taught over the internet. It can't be taught to anyone who thinks that "randomness" means the same thing as entropy, who can't sit down and review the experiments and equations that show what entropy is. It's a serious topic for someone seriously interested.

Not that many people are seriously interested in anything. They want to use ideas for propaganda. They want to win. I don't know who all is included in "they", but D. James Kennedy certainly is. I suppose it's like that Supreme Court justice said about pornography, that he knows it when he sees it. I know when I see or hear or read someone who is not interested in serious discussion.

Of course it's not just intellectual honesty that matters for that. Yesterday I visited a blog called Liberal Christians where the author was calling Joe Lieberman "scum" and suggesting he move back to Israel. Maybe the author was having a bad day, but I don't accept that as an excuse any more than I accept the excuse of, "I was drunk". Saying or doing evil things are forgivable, but they don't come from nothing.

Now I doubt that any of these people who I would say are not to be considered for serious discussion care what I think. I am not their target audience. Still it is strange when such people say they do this out of faith. I don't know that God has any meaning if He doesn't require more honesty and love than this. So I don't think God is fooled. I think He's knows someone is being bad as well as I do. If that doesn't matter to those being bad, then that's the final proof that what they say is not to be taken seriously.

I wish I could get God's list of who to take seriously. He tells me not to worry, that it's fine just to decide who is serious by what they say and do. After all, people can change, even if some never do. Then there is the likelihood that everyone is incompetent on some subjects, even God. If that doesn't make someone at least a little humble, maybe there is no hope for them.

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