"If we were to look at a beautiful painting and exclaim over how such a masterpiece just formed on its own, we would be called fools. Yet many would say that the eye, which sees it and possesses 130 million light-sensitive rods and cones that convert light into chemical impulses that travel at a rate of a billion per second to the brain, was just an accidental formation. Ps. 14:1 "The fool has said, "There is no God."
This is a post that my uncle put on facebook.
He is a critical, judgmental, hypocrite of a christian, who loves to point out other people's faults while acting like he is perfect. He also prides himself in being intelligent and witty, and looks down on people who don't fit into his view of how a person should act according to the bible. I want to post something back, but I don't really know what to put. Any suggestions???
this is essentially Paley's Watchmaker argument. William Paley, in his 1802 work Natural Theology, offered up the argument as proof of the existence of god. he asks us to imagine that we're walking along a beach and suddenly we come across a rock. he points out that of course no one would think that the rock was anything but natural. then he asks us to imagine that we're walking along a beach and we come across a pocket-watch. no one, he argues, would think that the timepiece had been formed by purely natural means. it must've had a designer and that designer, or watchmaker, is god!
now the fun part: destroying the argument! :)
Paley, and your uncle for that matter, presuppose the existence of god and then use the watchmaker argument, or in the case of your uncle the painting/eye argument, to justify their presupposition. this is faulty logic of the worst kind. you can't start out with conclusions and then see what sort of rationalizations you can come up with to justify your conclusions. where's the evidence?
frankly, though this is no less an unevidenced proposition, it is still far more likely to suppose that the watch/painting/eye was "designed" by aliens from another planet than to suppose that these objects are evidence of a supernatural god. the simple rule of parsimony suggests that, all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one. natural explanations are far simpler than supernatural ones.
3. argument from incredulity.
"the evolution of the eye is just too incredible in it's complexity for me to accept naturalistic explanations so... goddidit!" this is faulty logic. just because a person finds it difficult to wrap their mind around the evidenced naturalistic explanation doesn't mean that wholly unevidenced supernatural explanations are valid.
3.a. (related to 3.) argument from ignorance.
"i/we don't know how the evolution of the eye happened, therefore, goddidit!"
similar to the argument from incredulity, arguments from ignorance fail just as hard. just because a person may not know themselves, or may not be aware that we do in fact know how the eye evolved, doesn't mean that we do not. this is no reason to propose supernatural explanations.
"many would say that the eye, which sees it and possesses 130 million light-sensitive rods and cones that convert light into chemical impulses that travel at a rate of a billion per second to the brain, was just an accidental formation."
another logical fallacy. no one with a working understanding of the theory of evolution by natural selection would ever suggest that the eye "was just an accidental formation."
mutations are to some extent random insofar as they are unpredictable and can only be analyzed statistically but natural selection, the mechanism behind evolution, is a non-random process!
5. ad hominem.
when you can't win your argument just go ahead and call your opponent a fool! sure, that's intellectually honest.
how about, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."- James 1:26
or then there's, "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' [an Aramaic term of contempt] is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."- Matthew 5:22
the fact is, we know exactly how the eye evolved step by step from a patch of light sensitive cells, to a depression with the light sensitive cells at the bottom of the depression, to a deeper depression, to a cup with the cells at the bottom, to a pinhole eye, and so on and so on. the patch of light sensitive cells benefits the animal allowing it to tell night from day and direct it towards the light. having the cells at the bottom of a depression would allow the animal to detect where the light was coming from. a cup eye would do this even better than a simple depression. a pinhole eye would allow the animal to actually produce an image. at each stage of the evolutionary history of the eye the organism benefits.
Well put. I wrote my reply before I read yours, but I agree with all your points. The eye is a really bad example for Creationists to use because the answers to their rhetorical questions are pretty well known.
-God is a shitty engineer. Thankfully we have an educated understanding of biology and technology that produced LASIK! (Oh yeah.. and explains that natural selection is anything BUT a random process. )
Thank you for all of your responses! I really appreciate it.
Yes, I know I'm going to come across as a dick to him, but I don't really care anymore. You ever know someone who just preaches and preaches and acts so arrogant because he believes he knows the truth and no one could possibly convince him otherwise because he has faith? It's just gotten on my last nerve, I guess. :)
I love everything that each of you said. And I'm going to try to incorporate all of it in my response somehow, but still try to keep it short and sweet. Hmm... Is that possible?
What is not possible, is trying to get him to see reason. Whatever I say to him regarding this, no matter how reasonable or rational it is, he is going to take offense and think I am a "fool". I understand this. So, honestly, I just want to use this wonderful information to get under his skin as much as he gets under mine. Hehe, is that bad? Hmm, the holy spirit's not making me feel guilty about it, so I guess it's okay.
But, seriously, thanks guys. I've really learned a whole lot from reading what you wrote, and I'm definitely keeping the info in my brain for future reference. You all are awesome! :)
If he alleges we have no proof god didn't make us, what proof does he offer that he did? Or that he exists? Doesn't all proof come back to a book written by many people years after events supposedly took place?
Years ago, when Katie Holmes married Tom Cruise, either my husband or I didn't know that Katie was on Dawson's Creek. I can't remember ever not knowing this, but my husband staunchly retains that he was a Dawson's Creek viewer and always knew that as well. Yet one of us didn't know, but neither remembers which one. Sure, that's trivial and stupid and fun to argue about. But what if we were one of the original bible authors? Whispers down the lane and foggy memories do not make for religious proof.
The burden of proof, the Latin maxim semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit, or "the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges" applies to this argument again and again. Every year we secularists find bits and pieces of proof to further push our "theory" of evolution into law. What proof do creationists provide other than cheese toast and schizophrenics, and the same old book they've been hawking since Roman times (of which countless contradictory versions exist)?