In the previous post I started answering questions from this blog post, and we got a glimpse of what the author was getting at in their attempt to question atheism: they conflate religion with creation and morality, by contrast making atheism evolution and some variety of nihilism or relativism.
Now we’re looking at the next 12 questions I cannot answer because I’m not religious, starting with question 13. By chance, they are a little more political and varied.
13. Why is Richard Dawkins afraid to debate Ray Comfort?
Richard Dawkins has said in very clear terms that he won’t debate creationists because it artificially exaggerates their presence in society by being in discussion with scientists. If Creationism withstood a trial by science it would be Science and other reputable scientific journals. Professional scientists are not debating evolution on the level of whether it is true: the theory of evolution has withstood a trial by science and the debates are about the details of ancestry and phylogenetics.
That said, I don’t know that the questioner knows Dawkins is afraid. He might be, for Comfort is a trained rhetorician and debater. Dawkins is not. That means in a stood-in-front-of-a-crowd-and-judge-by-a-layman-audience debate, Comfort has the advantage. Judged by an expert audience, written down, Dawkins has the clear advantage of being right.
14. Did you know Christopher Hitchens was saved before death?
No. I didn’t know that. In fact, I doubt it. I certainly can’t find any evidence this is true. I can find evidence of Christians seeming to relish is spreading the rumour, as Hitchens guessed they would, and some of the rumour-spreading is done by people happy to describe their religion in terms of fear, which is revealing. More importantly, Hitchens addressed this issue himself in his life. He said it is an unpleasant history that rumours of strident atheists having a deathbed conversion are common; Darwin being an example.
In an interview for CNN with Anderson Cooper Hitchens, when asked about a possible deathbed conversion―even if it is when he is alone―said “if it comes it will be when I am very ill; when I am half demented either by drugs for by pain. I won’t have control over what I say… I can’t say that the entity, that by then wouldn’t be me, wouldn’t do such a pathetic thing. I can tell you that: not when I’m lucid.”
15. Are you aware Ray Comfort disproved atheism with a banana?
Again, the atheism/evolution confusion is present. But, did you know that a natural banana looks nothing like the banana Comfort was holding, but has been selectively bred? The banana he used is the result of all the mechanisms of evolution, sped up by the intentional selection made by humans. And, even if that weren’t the case, even if the modern banana were entirely natural, Comfort’s argument still doesn’t prove anything.
A hidden assumption in Comfort’s “If you study a well made banana…” presentation is that the purpose of a banana is apparent: the banana was made for people, because God’s plan is human convenience. That is a semi-well defined claim that we can then properly investigate. Then the problem of suffering, pain, anatomical inefficiencies, parasites and disease all challenge the premise that God’s design was about human convenience. If you try to dodge these challenges, you lose the definition of the purpose of the design, which handicaps your ability to speak of design.
16. Why do people laugh at evolutionists?
The crocoduck, human offspring from chimpanzee parents and frogs to princes are all considerable misrepresentations of evolutionary theory that are, themselves, ridiculous and ludicrous. But, these misrepresentations are commonplace and intentionally spread by people who have been corrected. (This is violation of ‘thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour’.) It is these strawmen of evolution that people laugh at. But well-informed people are laughing at the poorly informed people who spread these misconceptions, not evolutionists.
17. How did the planets form when the Big Bang explosion all of a sudden happen? After all, you don’t see round objects form when something blows up.
The Big Bang [sic] didn’t belt-out planets. The Big Bang produced a mess of quantum particles, which expanded, cooled and condensed into hydrogen. Clouds of hydrogen collapsed under their own gravity forming stars. Stars are the nuclear furnaces of the universe, building heavier elements by fusing nuclei of atoms and then exploding, delivering the elements to areas around the universe. They can re-collapse into stars under their gravity or dust can collapse into planets. It’s actually incredibly easy to look up videos and articles explaining this at all levels of education. I have no idea why the questioner happily embarasses themselves by asking this instead of looking it up.
18. If evolution is real, how can it explain gravity, angular momentum, human emotions, and why we worship God?
Germ Theory and Atomic Theory also don’t answer questions of gravity, angular momentum, emotions or faith. And neither should they. Scientific theories explain given, related sets of observations and data. Each scientific theory only deals with well defined aspects of the universe. Evolution explains biological diversity, fossil and skeleton plans, genetics and phylogenetics, resistant bacteria, fossil distribution (when coupled with Tectonic Theory) and some other data.
19. How did pond scum make living things appear out of nowhere?
Can you look a child in the eye and, without guilt, tell the child this is something evolutionary theory claims or predicts? Knowing the 9th Commandment, are you sure you don’t want to retract this question (and many of the others)? Pond scum is complex life, having undergone the same 3.5 billion years of evolution as all other life. Such complex plant life is not expected to become anything other than a plant, especially not a mammal.
It is more appropriate to think of life coming from something much more primitive: organic chemistry. Lipids and proteins form naturally and there are mechanisms by which they count as plausible precursors to replicating life.
20. How can evolution be true if we don’t see pocket watches or airplanes form by themselves?
By what mechanism do you imagine watches and aeroplanes might emerge? Biological evolution depends on generations, heritability, variation and environmental pressures and narrow biological niches. Aeroplanes and watches don’t have this. They don’t have random variation, generations or an environment to adapt to. There is no reasonable analogy between manmade mechanical creations and organic entities.
The imagery this question actually comes from―a Boeing 747 forming from a scrap yard during a hurricane―is more preposterous than the humans born of chimpanzees. Biological change is gradual and so the one-generation step between chimpanzees and humans is a bigger step than nature tends to make (successfully). The step between absolute chaos (a scrapyard) and a well-functioning machine (a Boeing 747) is a bigger step in complexity again.
21. Did you know that dinosaurs and man lived together?
Dinosaurs aren’t in the Bible and no science has found any evidence of this. (Except for in absolute technicalities, like the crocodylia, making crocodiles and alligators modern day dinosaurs, or birds, their descendants). Dinosaurs went extinct approximately 65 million years ago, but it would be a generous estimate to call the human race 1 million years old. So, it’s not at all clear how the questioner came to this conclusion.
22. If evolution is real, then why do caring people like Rick Santorum argue that it must be challenged in the classroom?
Based on Santorum’s work to include the “Santorum Amendment” to the No Child Left Behind act shows that Santorum challenged evolution in the classroom for misinformed reasons. Santorum believed there was continued scientific controversy regarding evolution, but there simply isn’t. There is controversy, but it’s all in the details. It’s not about the overall truth evolution, it’s a scientific fact.
Listening to Santorum discuss his belief that evolution doesn’t belong in the science classroom (and that Intelligent Design does), his theological bias is clear; he feels a ‘Creator’ is a better explanation of some things. He believes this despite not having a clear understanding of evolution. That is a bias.
23. Why are youtube atheists like AronRa and Thunderf00t afraid to debate Ray Comfort?
Thunderf00t has debated Ray Comfort. And AronRa has issued an open invitation for Ray Comfort to debate him.
24. Why do we celebrate Christmas if Christianity is not real?
I don’t mean to open with pernickety semantics, but Christianity is real. The content of Christianity is unsupported or false, but the acceptance of it (which is what Christianity is) is very much real. Christianity is cultural, it was spread by sword and missionary work; it was snuck into aid and hidden in charity work. Because it is cultural, adherence to it doesn’t demonstrate its truth any more than Valentine’s Day shows Eros or Cupid are real, or Ramadan shows Allah is real and Mohammed is the true prophet.
Not only does adherence not show truth, but Christmas is a mix of secular and pagan symbols: the Yule Log, bringing a tree into the house, the big feast etc. The date of Christmas was intentionally picked to ease the transition from paganism. Jesus was born beside a ripe fig tree in the Middle East (according to the Koran): about June.