Just doing my part

A clinic in Virginia took a pro-active stance against the anti-choicers preaching and sermonizing outside: they tried to drown them out with a recording over a loudspeaker. I don’t actually approve of that tactic — the first consideration ought to be welcoming patients, and compounding cacophony isn’t helpful. Interestingly, though, their choice of a recording was the audiobook of The Happy Atheist, as read by the resonant Aron Ra.

“We are apes and the descendants of apes,” the recording of Meyers’ book “The Happy Atheist” declared. “We’re the descendents of rat-like primates, who were the children of reptiles, who were the spawn of amphibians, who were the terrestrial progeny of fish, who came from worms, who were assembled from single-cell microorganisms, who were the products of chemistry.”

“Your daddy was a film of chemical slime on a Hadean rock and he didn’t care about you—he was only obeying the laws of thermodynamics,” it continued. “You aren’t here because of grand design, but because of chance, contingency and selection.”

Not only was Aron Ra given no credit, they also…misspelled my name. I guess I should learn to expect that. When I got married, I suggested that I adopt my wife’s name instead, but she squelched that. No one would ever misspell “Gjerness”, would they?

But actually, much as I appreciate the attention and the anger of Christians, don’t blare my words at women just looking for care. It’s not appropriate and is counterproductive.

Merely molecules in motion

I’ve been listening to the infuriating Frank Turek. He’s got one argument against materialism which he seems to be well known for: those damn atheists are saying you’re merely molecules in motion, and you know you’re not, so therefore atheism is false, to paraphrase. Here’s an example from Turek’s debate with Hitchens. It’s an awful argument.

Christopher’s a self-described materialist but if atheism is true we have no grounds to know it because reason and thoughts are just chemical reactions in the brain. How can you have—even Einstein believed this. Einstein was a determinist. How can you trust what Christopher says if it’s just chemical reactions going on in his brain and chemical reactions in our brain? See, chemical don’t reason, they react. Now, I’m not saying there’s no connection between our thinking and chemicals, there is, but if it’s nothing but chemicals, how can we trust them? Even Darwin recognized this, it’s called Darwin’s doubt. He said, “If we are just the product materially of primates, why should I even trust anything, much less my theory of natural selection?” The next major reason is the laws of mathematics. Science depends on the notion that the universe is rational and mathematical at all levels. But how does rationality and mathematics arise from randomness? How do they come from matter? Rationality and mathematics are the product of mind, not matter. So you’ve got reason and the laws of logic, the laws of mathematics, and, number seven (or, seven in my list here, three in the addition) human freedom and the ability to make choices. Christopher is somebody who is very concerned about human freedom as I am, but again, if we are just molecules in motion, how do we have human freedom? William Provine from Cornell, he’s a materialist, a Darwinist, he points out that we don’t have any human freedom if all we are is molecules in motion. Now, Christopher ought not scold anybody for being a snake-handling, Bible-thumping, funny mentalist preacher because according to his own world view, that person is that way because these are just chemicals going on in his brain. Neither could you say that Hitler had done anything wrong if it’s just chemicals going on in his brain. I mean, what is the murder molecule? How much does justice weigh? These are questions that have no answer in a materialistic world view, but that is Christopher’s world view. It seems to me that it makes much more sense to say that reason and laws of logic and mathematics and human freedom come from a great mind that granted us these immaterial realities. The final argument is consciousness. Do you know that a heap of sand and a human brain have the same elements? Why are some carbon-based molecules conscious and some are not? Materialists have no answer for this. Daniel Dennett, another person who would agree with Christopher on many things, he’s a materialist, says that consciousness is an illusion because he’s a materialist. You’re not really witnessing this right now, it’s just an illusion. Now one wonders if he was conscious when he wrote this. But again, there is no explanation for this in an atheistic world view.

He has it all wrong.

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Is atheism bankrupt?


We had another mass murder in America this week, and there’s no way around it: it was by a “none”, someone who hated organized religion, and who described himself as Not Religious, Not Religious, but Spiritual. If he were participating in a survey, we’d embrace him as one of us, part of our growing majority. He was also a Conservative Republican, and if he were attending CPAC, we have atheists who’d enthuse about a possible recruit to the cause. But instead, he slaughtered innocent people, so we turn around and pretend his disbelief had absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s all very convenient. If he’d been a Christian we’d all sneer at the hypocrisy of all the believers who’d reassure us that he wasn’t a True Christian™, but now it’s only reasonable that we rationally and calmly divorce ourselves from any responsibility.

I don’t accept that.

I agree completely with Ashley Miller’s point that the myth of atheist superiority is dangerous, and leads to terrible consequences. Even if it isn’t causal, it leads terrible people to do terrible things to achieve that affirming sense of being better than everyone else. It has to stop. And the first step is acquiring some sense of responsibility.

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But all dinosaurs are mutants!

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: yet another creationist has disproved evolution. This one has a site called creationdino.blogspot.com — he thinks dinosaurs are evidence against evolution — and calls himself “@BeholdBeast” on Twitter, and is actually named David Wilson. He thinks he has an undeniable proof that evolution did not occur. His claim is that there ought to be more fossils of failed mutations than successful ones.

For evolution to be a viable hypothesis, it must have the element of mutation playing a vast and critical role. Mutation is a chaotic – random – process. Therefore every evolutionary jump should be flanked in the fossil record by countless random mutations which did not succeed. That means billions of failed mutation fossils for 1.5 million species of life on earth, demanded statistically because we have many fossils of many particular animals which did “succeed”. Such a fossil record of countless failed mutations does not exist. That is the end of the theory of evolution. It’s over.

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