Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In Response to C. S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Reasoning on Atheism

‎"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."
—C.S. LewisThe Case for Christianity, p. 32.

Suppose there was an intelligence behind the universe, a creative mind. In that case, something may have designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. 

It is only because the atoms inside my skull are arranged just so that gives me the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my thinking to be my own? 

It’s like a machine ever stamping out the same metal parts, never able to vary from its predetermined task. 

But if my thinking is not my own, of course there is no argument, about anything, for I am only what I was made to be, and incapable of being otherwise.

And therefore I cannot believe in God, or anything else. I am incapable that act. I have no reason. I have no thought. Belief ceases to have meaning. 

The point being, something independent of God must exist, some "jug of spilled milk" that has splashed itself into a map of my life, or I am nothing more than a mindless automaton. 

Take THAT, presuppositional apologetics!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Deconstructing Dembski (2005)


In his 2005 paper Specification: the pattern that signifies intelligence, William Dembski tries to give a rigorous definition to his concept of Complex Specified Information (CSI). This paper has numerous problems, the most painful of which is repeated equivocation of terms, making it very difficult to read. Once I got past the equivocation, I discovered basic errors in how probabilities are calculated and interpreted. One error in particular is very hard to swallow, and anyone with a basic understanding of probability should know better. Dembski has a master’s degree in statistics and a PhD in mathematics, therefore it is reasonable to think he knows better. How could he be so wrong?

Here's the spoiler, in case you don't care to read the whole post:

  • The concept of CSI in Dembski (2005) is based on a meaningless number, which is interpreted as probability even though it is not. As a consequence, CSI cannot have the meaning and interpretation stated. Dembski's math is wrong.
More after the fold ...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Tomatoes, More Dangerous Than Ever!


image source
“We have suffered a Code 9 containment breach,” said head biotechnologist Stewart Klein, explaining that he had used a dedicated emergency line to contact Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis, which immediately sent back a directive ordering all laboratory personnel to shelter in place until further notice. “As of now, we’ve sealed off all stairwells below subbasement 12, but this hardy, disease-resistant tomato appears to have overridden all of our fail-safe backup protocols. We have an asset on the loose, and nobody will be allowed in or out until this thing is stopped.”
Full details on this breaking story available at The Onion, America's Finest News Source.

Also, Bonus Points it you caught the Andromeda Strain reference.  :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ken Ham and the AiG Follies

I have a several pages of notes from Ken Ham's recent presentation, and wrote about one example of the things he gets wrong. This could keep my busy blogging for a year if I so chose, but I think it's not worthwhile making a point-by-point rebuttal to everything he said. That don't mean I can't have some fun with it!

Therefore, for your amusement, I am going to simply list all the greatly wrong points I noted. In other words, pretty much everything. Quotes are approximate, everything else is my paraphrase, but I'll try to keep them as close to the original as my notes and recollection will allow. I won't bother with the rebuttals, as everyone probably knows them all anyway. Well, maybe a few ... I will decorate with a few quips and comments [in brackets] and irrelevant images along the way.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Ken Ham and the AiG Follies!

"The church is losing two-thirds of the coming generations." [Gosh, I wonder why?] "We need to teach apologetics ... I have a radical approach - teach Genesis 1:1 and give them a foundation to understand. ... We have lost Biblical authority!" [another mystery! AND a comic book!] "Come see the Ark!" [Instead of learning something.]

"Bill Nye the Pagan Guy, Bill Nye the Atheist Guy, whatever." [I don't think he likes Bill Nye, nor is he fond of Eugenie Scott]

"Radiometric error ..."
"Molecules to Man ..."

Experiment or observational science versus Origins or historical science: "Ask them, 'Were you there?'" [The guy sitting in front of me keeps nodding his head vigorously every time he this Ham makes a point.]
Science is brainwashing
Naturalism is atheism [yawn]
"Bill Nye says the Ark park will undermine science education."
Evolution is unnecessary, "Show me one example of evolution leading to technical advancements". [OK, how about all the emerging field of Evolutionary Medicinegene therapies, and cures that are coming into use? Genetic algorithms too. Now show me one example of the Bible leading to a technical innovation.]

"Science says the Earth is round, and the Earth is millions of years old!" [Billions, actually.]
"The Bible says you are either for Christ or against." [False dichotomy, but whatever.]
I don't want to be too much like Bill Nye, but I call myself "Ken Ham the observational science ... um ... bloke. That's Australian for 'guy'."
"The Bible is God's observational science textbook." [His edition is rather out of date.]
"The seven day week comes from the Bible, proof the Bible is true." [Yes, he really did say pretty much that.]
"Watson and Crick, atheist scientists, discovered DNA." [Hey, we finally have a completely true statement!]
DNA is information. DNA is a language. [Noddy head guys is going to have a sore neck tomorrow.]
Werner Gitt says if there is no information, there is no matter. [Plugging some AiG book, I think.]
DNA proves God. Biochemistry confirms this. [I'd like the chemical formula for God, please.]

How many animals were needed on the Noah's Ark? All they needed were Kinds, or 'Min'. Horse kind, "We have a zorse and a zonkey at the Creation Museum petting zoo." [We still have the fossils!]
All the species we see today are the result of genetic recombination, loss of information, and sin! They are degenerate mutants. [Ham hates poodles too. Seriously hates them.] There are 10^2017 possible genetic combinations possible from just two perfect humans. Natural selection leads to all the kinds we see today. [Clearly some of us ended up in the shallow end of the gene pool.]
Every new mutation is a loss of information.
Every new species is a combination of existing genetic information.
It's all a loss of information! [Noddy head guy is bouncing like a bobblehead.]

[Ordinarily I would have a field day with all this misuse of Information, but I'm saving that for a special post.]

Ooh la la!
Atheists redefine terms to allow abortion, transgender men in women's bathrooms, gay marriage, our atheist President thinks Lucy was human.
Life begins at fertilization, not implantation [Ranting about abortion]

See? I told you!
Women can take their shirts off in public, because they ignore the Bible. [There could be worse things than women taking their shirts off.]

Millions of years is a problem for Christians [Billions is OK I guess.]
All creatures were vegetarians before the flood. [What about all those years between original sin and the flood?]
The world is decaying. "It's an ugly world, with a remnant of beauty." [This almost make me pity Ham. Almost.]

Erosion at Mt. St. Helens proves catastrophic floods can create all the geologic features we see.
"There is plenty of water for a global flood," because everything was nearly flat before the flood.
Grand Canyon lakes and surges deposits show the GC was made by The Flood.
The evidence is all there. [Noddy head shouts "Amen!"]

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson fuel racism.
All people are the same color, just a different shade of brown.
Darwin is responsible for racism, because people do not acknowledge absolute Biblical authority.
Science causes evil [paraphrased]
We should be shocked by what the church believes [but not his church?]
The problem with the church is that too many accept evolution and science.
With no Biblical foundation, this leads to inconsistent beliefs.
Wrong foundation, therefore abortion!
"Run rings around the atheists with Answers!" [sales pitch for his tracts]
Get your Foundations education kit, for this special low low price, today only ...

"Now it's time to pay, err ... I mean pray." Be sure to buy my crap on the way out. [And then he ends his science lecture with a prayer.]

Ladies and Gentlemen, this concludes this evening's entertainment. You've been a great audience. Come back and see us next time!

And you know what they say in show biz - Always leave them laughing. That's not too hard when your subject is Ken Ham.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rock Paper Scissors SPOCK Lizard

Sorry Sheldon, but it should be 

Rock Paper Scissors Spock Lizard,


Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock.

Here is Sheldon Cooper explaining the game:

In the original Rochambeau we have the simple rules:
Rock crushes Scissors
Scissors cut Paper
Paper covers Rock
Which we can represent as:
Rock < Paper < Scissors < Rock
where greater-than "<" represents the win/lose relationship
loser < winner
and Rock is repeated to complete the circular relationship. 

If we call this game "Rock Paper Scissors Spock Lizard" then we can write the rules like this:
Rock < Paper < Scissors < Spock < Lizard < Rock < Paper
now with Rock and Paper repeated (or just understand that it "wraps around"), and the additional rule that any sequence of three (with wrapping) is also a rule.
Rock Paper Scissors
Paper Scissors Spock
Scissors Spock Lizard
Spock Lizard Rock
Lizard Rock Paper
And now the rules are the same as the name of the game.
Image source: Hollywood Nuts!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ken Ham on the age of the Earth

In my last post, An Evening with Ken Ham, I stated:
[Ham] would never address a real scientific question. Ham's approach to science is is entirely superficial, and his interest in science ends the moment he finds a trivial sound-bite that he can use in his sermons.
I thought I might follow up on that with my favorite quote from the evening; a self-contradictory statement which is wrong on two levels. This was a shorter version of this quote I am using here, taken from the Ham-Nye debate of February 4, 2014 [my emphasis added]:
Image source:
Ham: Now, a lot of people say, by the way, the Earth's age is 4.5 billion years old. And we have radioactive decay dating methods that bound that. We certainly observe radioactive decay, whether it's rubidium –strontium, uranium – lead, or potassium-argon, but when you are talking about the past, you have a problem. Let me give you an example. In Australia there were engineers that were trying to search out about a coal mine, so they drilled down and they found a basalt layer, or lava flow that had woody material in it, branches and twigs and so on, and when Dr. Andrew Snelling, our PhD geologist sent that to a lab in Massachusetts in 1994, they used the potassium-argon dating method and dated it at 45 million years old. Well, we also sent the wood to the radiocarbon section of the same lab, and they dated it at 45,000 years old. 45,000 year old wood in 45 million year old rock. The point is, there is a problem [1].
Yes there is a problem - Ham just said the Earth is at least 45,000 years old. If he really believes the Earth is just 6000 years old he should reject this estimate too. Is the dating right, or is it wrong? MAKE UP YOUR MIND PLEASE!

I could be more generous; perhaps he meant there is a problem between 45,000 years and 45,000,000 years. Here too the problem is self-evident. In fact it is such a boner that I didn't catch the 6000 years bug at first. Here it is again:

... we also sent the wood to the radiocarbon section of the same lab, and they dated it at 45,000 years old ...
If you know anything about radiocarbon dating, then you know it is limited to organic materials no more than about 50,000 years old (~75k years with more recent refinements). Anything older than that and too much of the carbon-14 will have decayed to determine anything more than "older than ~50,000 years". Snelling used a technique that cannot give a correct answer in this instance. There is also the matter of contamination from more recent carbon sources, and if the sample was actually petrified wood in the first place. There was never a peer reviewed publication of Snelling's analysis, never any independent verification of the results, and good reason to suspect the sample was not what Snelling claims it to be. This result has never been replicated by anyone else. Ever. 

Ken Ham really doesn't care if anything he says is correct, he only cares that if the lie sounds good enough to fool people who don't know any better. 
Image source: Hyperphysics

[1] Browning, B. (2014, February 10). Transcript of Ken Ham vs Bill Nye Debate. Retrieved November 19, 2015, from

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

An Evening With Ken Ham

I went to see Ken Ham, co-founder of of Answers in Genesis ministries, speak at a local church last night. I had a couple of questions prepared in case there was a Q&A session where I might get a chance to speak:

1) Mr. Ham: You blame atheists as the primary opposition to your views, but atheist are a minority in the US. Isn't it true that the majority of Christians are able to reconcile the beliefs with knowledge of science, and so they are your real opposition?

2) Most or all of Creation Science is contradicted by the Laws of physics. Would not the Answers in Genesis efforts be better spent in pursuit of basic physics research to discover the fundamental flaws?

There was no Q&A, but Ham made his beliefs evident during the talk:

1) Reasonable Christians are the problem. By admitting that Genesis isn't literally true, reasonable people are allowing all manor of awful things in the name of evolution. Reasonable people are wrong, and he doesn't give a damn what they think.

2) He would never address a real scientific question. Ham's approach to science is is entirely superficial, and his interest in science ends the moment he finds a trivial sound-bite that he can use in his sermons.

And Ken Ham gives a good sermon, I'll give him that. At times he would blaze through topics, speaking very rapidly and clearly. He is a master speaker, and I'm certain he can do a fearsome Gish gallop, dishing out falsehood faster than another can hope to correct him. Unsurprisingly, some of his talk was a sales pitch for the Creation Museum, the coming Ark Park, and his trunk load of Answers in Genesis propaganda, available to you now for this special low price ...

Despite his skill, Ham never learns. The obvious errors from the Ham/Nye debate were repeated again last night. In fact, Ham pretty much hit every point that make atheists despise religion, from scientific to cultural to political. His opening sentence was to point out that religion is losing two-thirds of the coming generation, and I think atheists should thank him for that.

As I snapped the photo above, just prior to the presentation, I got the feeling Ham was picking me out of the crowd as a potential troublemaker. That was never my intent, and I'm not sure I would have left the room undisturbed if I had. I sat through the ~90 minute presentation quietly taking notes, waiting for the opportunity that never came, and left quietly when it was over.

On my way out there was all manner of of Answers in Genesis tracts for sale. I almost bought a couple of $2 booklets, and now I wish I had just to have a souvenir of the evening. It would had easy for me to grab some booklets and wander out through the crowd without paying - Yet somehow - despite my lack of a fundamental understanding of the Bible of the chapters of Genesis - I still think that stealing is wrong. Go figure.