My series of answering these questions is continuing and now we are onto the third batch of 12. The questions so far have been wayward and my job has not been to answer them, but to unpick what the questioner is even on about. Luckily, the implicit work–the work of showing the questioner is an idiot–has been done very effectively by the questioner himself. I suspect even some religious readers have noticed that.
We have identified misunderstanding of evolution and lies about atheists. across the next 24 (and particularly these 12) questions, we will see the immature and underdeveloped views of the questioner on the topic of ethics and amazing ignorance about science.
25. If creationists can’t do science, then why does the website Answersingenesis have proven science articles from creationists that do science?
Answers in Genesis has non-religious articles in them, so they can be scientific without ever validating their religion. Some of the religious or creationist articles published are full or pre-amble and irrelevancies which are scientifically accurate (although, amusingly, sometimes even the irrelevant preamble is wrong or meaninglessly simple). But the core of their argument, the bit where they get religious, is always nonsense. I’m happy to be shown wrong here, but I am frequently sent to Answers in Genesis when debating; I’ve never seen an accurate article that supports God.
It’s not that creationists can’t do science, as I said in the answer to question 1. It’s about the fact that when science and one’s religious leaning contradict, the authors treat science as if it should bend to religion, not the other way around. This is a bias.
26. If evolution is true, then why can’t white people compete to be good in basketball like black people? After all, white people can’t jump!
Whether this question is even based on accurate assumption is debatable. On the metapopulation and metadata levels, this is true: average and peak athletic performances do differ between distinct groups of people. However, defining these distinct groups as “black” or “white” is very difficult to do on a genetic basis. However, I will happily play Devil’s advocate and simply accept this assumption despite its questionable basis.
What aspect of evolution suggests distinct groups within a species would have identical athletic performances? Generally speaking, there are groups of physical and physiological differences between nationalities and ethnicities. One is that black populations are generally more athletic, and the elite of those populations tend to outperform the elite of white populations in running and jumping. It gets specific, to the point that Kenyans are good long distance runners and it’s no coincidence their subsistence relies on them herding sheep on foot. Better sheepherders get more food, that offers more security to their family and those beneficial genes: it’s an athletic skill that matters on an evolutionary perspective.
For white people to become as good as black people at basketball or running, it would need to matter to white people from the perspective of evolution (like it has in many histories of many populations).
27. Where do you decide to fit God in your everyday life if you don’t believe in him?
I’m not sure the question makes sense. God’s entire role to me is as an interesting philosophical challenge. Creationism doesn’t really fit the bill, as nothing new has been said is some time; science and scientists have rebuttals to all the arguments Creationists have.
28. Why is Christianity the fastest growing religion if it’s false?
There are many metrics for “fastest growing religion”. The most meaningful measure is by number of converts; this is people whose mind has been changed. When looking at converts, Islam is the fastest growing. But it’s not a brilliant metric because some of the converts have been convinced not by reason, but by force. Alternatively, absolute numbers are a good metric. And for that, Christianity does seem to be the fastest growing. But the absolute numbers are skewed by birth rates. Christianity is prevalent throughout Africa (arguably because of colonialism), in countries where the birth rate is extremely high. The new generation inherit the religion of their parents, and so that religion spreads by birth, not by reason.
False ideas do spread for many reasons. The link between the MMR injections autism is false but spread very quickly. One of the most important things that lie used as a vector was fear (and scientific illiteracy).
29. Do you feel free to commit murders, homosexuality, go to strip bars, steal, commit adultery, and do other sins since you believe there is no God?
No. There are plenty of good reasons to be “good”: game theory, reciprocation, group work and productivity, personal sensibilities. I don’t feel free to “commit… homosexuality” because it simply isn’t my sexuality (although, if it were my sexuality, I hope I would feel free to “commit” it). As for adultery, it depends on your definition: I’ve never been married.
I went to a strip-bar once and I didn’t like it, but I feel free to go and you’d be hard pushed, I think, to categorise that as a sin. I think that’s important, because the author has confused the social norm of not really accepting strip-bars as family friendly places with a religious sin.
30. Why do the fossils say no to evolution?
They don’t. I assume the questioner means this as a reference to Dr Gish’s Book Evolution: The Fossils Say No. I haven’t read the whole book, but I have looked at Gish’s lecture of the same title as well as book summaries. His arguments are pretty poor. They are about the flood, mostly.
Fossils form well in water, and don’t really form when dry and take several hundred thousand years to form. Knowing that, what would you imagine to see, globally, in the archaeological record, if there were a flood? That’s right, you would expect to see a hugely dense layer of fossils are dating to the same time. This is because there would have been a mass-extinction and plenty of water to encourage fossil formation. We do not see that. What Gish argues is that because we find fossils atop some mountains, there was a global flood: it must have been wet enough for fossils to form atop a mountain, and that means a global flood. The thing is, that’s not true either. Take the Himalayas: there is a lot of oceanic character to the Himalayas, but that is very different to a one off flood that lasted a few days; oceanic characteristics take a much longer time to form. The land that forms the Himalayas now was beneath an actual sea for some time, not just a small flood. Said sea is known as the Paleo-Tethys Ocean. The ocean was displaced by a geological orogeny caused by uplift as the Eurasian plate subducted the Indian subcontinent.
Gish also takes issue with reconstructions. We have to winder if there is anything about science he actually accepts (even if he does have a PhD).
31. Why did Darwin admit that how the eye formed is impossible?
Quote mining is the act of taking a quote that superficially says one thing and spreading that quote, regardless of whether continuing to read the original source changes the meaning of the quote. Observe: Darwin on the evolution of the eye.
“To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.”
32. Where did everything come from if there is no God?
No one really knows. The Big Bang phase marks the beginning of the intelligibility of our universe. At that point, all the matter already existed. Where it came from is a mystery. There is the ‘Big Bang singularity’ hypothesis, famously, which is being fleshed out by understanding of quantum mechanics that allows for everything to emerge at random. Alternatively, the ‘Eternal Inflation’ hypothesis postulates that our universe has become intelligible because we are a small pocket of a greater universe, and in our pocket the expansion has slowed enough to allow causality. This would allow for matter to be eternal, and for complexity to arise once the inflation rate has sufficiently slowed.
33. If there is no God, then why do we have laws that govern us, such as speed limits?
Speed limits are the perfect example of why laws and rules have nothing to do with God. There are no speed limits in the Bible. They are a human construct based on the best evidence for both safety and productivity (both economic and personal). Higher speed limits are more dangerous, lower one scupper our productivity (or, at least, that’s the idea). To an extent, that’s what all the laws are: liberty versus security; rights versus responsibilities. Laws are human inventions and they vary from country to country.
A good rebuttal question is this: “Why do we have varied laws to govern people, if a God exists?”
34. Do you know where you are going when you die?
I―anything I am―probably ceases to be at death. All our understanding of the mind suggests the mind depends on a functioning brain. At death, the brain ceases, and so does the mind.
35. Why do we not act like monkeys if it is true we came from monkeys?
Social evolution. We rely on our tribes differently. We have the resources to ponder ethics and politics. But, more interestingly, it is amazing how much we share with chimpanzees: metacognition and preponderance of fairness. I wouldn’t write-off other primates are mindless and uncivilised, nor be so fast to assume humans are profound and cultured. We share more similarities than many people are comfortable with discussing.
36. Why do we display The Ten Commandments in the courtrooms if you say the Bible is not real?
People mistakenly believe that the Commandments are a basis for our morality. To me, that suggests they haven’t noted the redundancy of what did make the top 10 and the glaring omissions like child abuse and rape.