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Randomly Random, Peppor!


Mr. Neil
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It just goes to show that no matter how intelligent and well-spoken a fundamentalist Christian is, they just can't help muddling their opponent's stated assumptions.

 

Now, typically I find Paul Manata somewhat uninteresting, as his attacks are based largely on strawmen and bolstered by belligerence. His arguments are so loaded with misrepresentations that I find them unbearable to read beyond a paragraph or two.

 

Still, when I heard that Paul's latest response to Dawson Bethrick's article Is the Expression ‘Invisible Magic Being’ “Pejorative”? had an evolution slam slipped in it, curiousity overcame me.

 

Now admittedly, I'm not actually responding to Paul's full post. I am, however, taking one assumption of his and showing how he, a seemingly bright intellectual, can be astonishingly ignorant when it comes to dealing with theories of biology.

 

The problem is that evolution teaches us that, say, dinosaurs became birds. Is Bethrick seriously advocating that time plus mutation plus chance can turn something into its opposite, but that a “being able to do all His holy will, including doing anything with what He‘s created” cannot do this?
-extracted from: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/10/luc...-atheology.html

 

Notice the immediate redundancy in Paul's strawman of evolution. He lists mutations and chance as separate events. Surely he knows by now that mutations are random chance events, so what the hell is this other "chance" he's talking about?

 

Additionally, you may have noticed what is conspiculous by its absense: Natural Selection. Now perhaps Paul is simply assuming that since something is natural, it must be completely random. Although it's wrong, I guess I could picture where that assumption would come from. However, I won't assume to know Paul's assumption, as it's just way too easy to ridicule such an astonishingly ignorant assumption that he may or may not have implied. After all, water is obstanantly non-random as it naturally and consistantly freezes at 0 degrees Celsius.

 

But for a more precise demonstration, let's turn to something that I'm actually good at: dromaeosaur locomotion (two-legged running). In evolution, the way in which a species evolves depends entirely upon what the environment is. By environment, we mean more than just the setting, but the climate and other species as well.

 

Random mutation provides variants known as alleles, which are variations of a single gene. For example, a gene that controls eye color may be expressed differently in different individuals, thus producing variations in eye color. In much the same way, alleles can express variation in other features as well, such as stature, bodily proportions, and functionality.

 

To select a specific trait (i.e., bring forth non-random selection), all that is needed is an environmental pressure. For example, if our dromaeosaurs find themselves in need of running power, then the ones best equipped for running will be selected. In this case, it would be those individuals whose femur is relatively short to the calf bones, the tibia and fibula. This is an entirely foreseeable event, and thus "chance" doesn't even enter the picture.

 

Now the Hovind-esque response to this might be "You weren't there, so you can't say anything about dinosaur evolution". Now while it's true that I wasn't there, my intent is not to demonstrate dogmatically that this is how dromaeosaurs evolved. Rather, it's demonstrate how you can have biological change that is entirely predictable based on what is known about the environment.

 

I would invite today's intellectual apologist to take this criticism to heart and adjust his or her arguments accordingly. If they don't, then they only further demonstrate that they can't construct an argument without being blatantly fallacious and can therefore be safely ignored.

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Yes, the freezing point of water is so non-random and consistant that it stubbornly refuses to conform to my brainfart typos. Thanks for pointing that out.

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I would invite today's intellectual apologist to take this criticism to heart and adjust his or her arguments accordingly. If they don't, then they only further demonstrate that they can't construct an argument without being blatantly fallacious and can therefore be safely ignored.

 

The thing is, though, Mr. N., is that apologists typically don't aim their writings at people like us. They know they will be abysmally unconvincing to the apostate. Rather, they're speaking to believers already, to reinforce what they already believe, or at those who may be wavering, to give them "strength". So they don't care about the fallacious nature of their arguments, so long as the deceived remain firmly rooted in the deception. (Besides, it makes money from book sales and speaking engagements)

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Oh, I'm well aware of that. This particular individual has a track record of making astonishing claims about his opponents that have absolutely nothing to do with what they're actually saying. In particular, he has a real knack for blurting out claims that start with "Evolution teaches us that...", and then loading it up with slander.

 

Any claim which states that evolution has a moral prescript is automatically wrong. Allele frequencies changing in a population over time have nothing to do with morality. It's simply a function of biology.

 

I wouldn't despair, though, as there are theists who can see right through people like this. If you follow the link from which I quoted, you'll find that there's a theist there scolding Paul for "lying for Jesus". Of course, Paul calls it an "apologetic tactic". I suppose it's okay to bear false witness as long as the ends justify the means.

 

So much for internal consistency.

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