Tag Archives: evolution

More on William Lane Craig’s Morality

In the comments section of my last post on this topic, it was highlighted to me by Prayson Daniel that I may not have exactly presented Craig’s case accurately. Though I feel that many of the points I made were valid against his argument, I figured I would redo my rebuttal it, and some his others in a new post quoting only his words. I shall provide links for all quotations so that you can see the context. So here goes, I shall dive in:

 

This is Craig’s moral argument in his words:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.

3. Therefore, God exists.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/moral-argument#ixzz2JP8r21DE

 

Let us begin with premise one; “if God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist”. Lets see what he offers in support of this:

Consider first the question of objective moral values. If God does not exist, then what basis remains for the existence of objective moral values? In particular, why think that human beings would have objective moral worth? On the atheistic view human beings are just accidental byproducts of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust called the planet Earth, and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. On atheism it’s hard to see any reason to think that human well-being is objectively good, anymore than insect well-being or rat well-being or hyena well-being. This is what Dr. Harris calls “The Value Problem”

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-the-foundation-of-morality-natural-or-supernatural-the-craig-harris#ixzz2JPCFI1EF

and

On a naturalistic view moral values are just the behavioral byproducts of biological evolution and social conditioning. Just as a troop of baboons exhibit cooperative and even self-sacrificial behavior because natural selection has determined it to be advantageous in the struggle for survival, so their primate cousins homo sapiens have evolved a sort of herd morality for precisely the same reasons. As a result of socio-biological pressures there has evolved among homo sapiens a sort of herd morality which functions well in the perpetuation of our species. But on the atheistic view there doesn’t seem to be anything that makes this morality objectively binding and true.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-the-foundation-of-morality-natural-or-supernatural-the-craig-harris#ixzz2JPCgyOgm

 

I essentially agree with this point. On naturalism there is no independent, timeless, objective system of ethics that exists outside of our own consciousness. This does not mean that a rational account for morality cannot be advanced. Science has shown us that there is a neurological basis for empathy – we are literally hard-wired for compassion. Let me explain; when you observe a person drowning and crying out for help, there will be a certain set of neurons that fire to coordinate their movements and actions as the person struggles in the water. As you observe this a certain subset of those same neurons fire as though your brain were mirroring what that person were going through – hence the name of these brain cells: Mirror neurons.

 

During the course of our evolution, our brains grew larger and we developed a much more complex system of mirror neurons. This would provide an advantage because it allows us to imitate the actions of others, and would play a vital role in the development of tool use. It has also give our brains an intrinsic connection between our own minds and those of others. When we see someone suffering we can literally put ourselves in their shoes through the “mirroring” of their actions in our brains. Similarly when we someone overjoyed or relieved, we share this experience with them. It is in our nature to be empathetic, as neurologist V.S. Ramachandran states:

 

Within some of these regions [of the brain], there is a special class of nerve cells called mirror neurons. These neurons fire not only when you perform an action, but also when you watch someone else perform the same action. This sounds so simple that its huge implications are easy to miss. What these cells do is effectively allow you to empathise with the other person and “read” her intentions—figure out what she is really up to. You this by running a simulation of her using your own body image.

 

When you watch someone else reach for a glass of water, for example, your mirror neurons automatically simulate the same action in your (usually subconscious) imagination. Your mirror neurons will often go a step further and have you perform the action they anticipate the other person is about to take—say, to lift the water to her lips and take a drink. Thus you automatically form an assumption about her intentions and motivations—in this case, that she is thirsty and is taking steps to quench her thirst. Now, you could be wrong in this assumption—she might intend to use the water to douse a fire or to fling in the face of a boorish suitor—but usually your mirror neurons are reasonably accurate guessers of others’ intentions. As such, they are the closest thing to telepathy that nature was able to endow us with.”

The Tell-Tale Brain page 22

 

Thus we have good grounds to believe that it is in our nature to be empathetic and compassionate. We see a person drowning and we want to help them because we can visualise ourselves in that position. Thus, though there may not be a law of the universe that states ‘we should be good’ it is an intrinsic part of our consciousness to be kind, and that is one perfectly adequate reason to be good – its in our nature!

 

I am willing to grant Craig his assertion that on naturalism there is no truly objective grounding for morality, however I do think there are issues with Craig’s unstated assumption that God is the source of objective morality. I shall return to the dilemma I highlighted in my previous post on this topic. Here is the problem:

 

1. If something is good because God commands it then this is a subjective basis for morality

2. If God commands something because it is already good then objective moral values exist independent of God

3. Therefore God cannot be the source of objective morality and Craig’s first premise is false

 

Lets take an example of Biblical morality, perhaps the most obvious; “Thou shall not kill”. If this is an objective indictment then there would be no context in which killing is permissible. Yet we have another passage from the Bible (this is not an isolated instance either):

“If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him.  Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you.  You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.  And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst.”

(Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

 

How can God’s commands be an objective basis for morality when in one instance he states; do not kill anyone, and in another he states; go out and kill? If killing is both okay and not okay in separate instances then it is not objectively wrong. It is determined by the subjective whims of God.

 

Prayson brought up the following point of contention with this in the comments to my previous post:

 

“[A] common reply offered in this literature is that objective moral values and duties base on God’s own nature. Plato called it The Good. Thus it cannot exist independent of God because God is The Good, they contended.

So what God commands reflects his nature. It is for that reason that he cannot command something against his nature.”

 

This does nothing to solve the confusion of the above dilemma. If God’s commands reflect his nature, then his nature must require that killing is both okay and not okay – his nature, according to scripture and this reasoning, is contradictory. So we still cannot arrive at the objective decision “killing is wrong” via this line of reasoning.

 

In conclusion, Craig’s first premise is flawed because an objective grounding morality requires that moral injunctions such as those against killing be true in all instances, yet this is contradicted by instances in scripture in which God endorses and encourages killing. Neither the divine command theory or the argument about God’s nature escapes this dilemma.

 

Let’s turn to premise 2: “Objective moral values and duties do exist.” And see what he offers in support of this assertion:

 

But the problem is that objective moral values and duties plausibly do exist. In moral experience we apprehend a realm of moral values and duties that impose themselves upon us. There’s no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world. Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior—they’re moral abominations. Some things, at least, are really wrong. Michael Ruse himself admits, “The man who says it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says 2+2=5.”2 Some things, at least, are really wrong.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-craig-krauss-debate-at-north-carolina-state-university#ixzz2JPerUoXk

 

The problem of this is that he does not provide any real reason to accept that we are actually apprehending a realm of moral values and duties that are an objective reality. He merely states that there is no reason to deny it. Yet there are reasons to deny it.

 

As I highlighted earlier in this post there are neurological groundings for empathy and compassion – we undoubtedly experience feelings of guilt and conscience. But this does not necessarily represent a realm that objectively exists outside of our consciousness. I explained that there are good evolutionary reasons for why we feel empathy and compassion.

 

Other morally guiding emotions such as shame and guilt, have equally sound evolutionary explanations. A short example of this would be, we may have evolved guilt and remorse as a defence against habitually dangerous behaviour – for example; adultery – the more our ancestors committed adultery the higher the frequency of getting caught and injured or killed. The unpleasant emotions of remorse and guilt prevent us from putting our lives at risk from “pissing too many people off” as it were. Likewise, friendship, cooperation etc. are advantageous, those who cooperate can survive much more efficiently than those who are constantly fighting with each other. There are many good naturalistic explanations for our moral experience that do not require the existence of moral principles that exist beyond the functioning of our brains.

 

Whilst it is undoubtedly true that most normal human beings experience what can be described as a ‘moral realm’ – however there is no reason to assume that this realm exists external to our consciousness. It is a part of who we are as a species, but it does not necessitate the existence of objective moral principles that exist in anything other than the internal realm of our experience.

 

Despite his assertion that there is ‘no good reason’ to deny the existence of an objective moral realm – I have shown that there are good reasons to. He offers nothing else in support of his argument. What Craig really needs to do is show us why there are no good reasons to deny his assertion, until he does so, I shall consider his point refuted.

 

Thus his conclusion “God exists” is not shown to be true due to the flaws in both of his premises that I’ve highlighted.

 

I hope this provides a more accurate and in depth analysis of his argument. Feel free to discuss in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

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William Lane Craig and his nonsense ethics

Christian apologist William Lane Craig, author of Reasonable Faith (the irony of this title will soon become apparent) argues that if objective moral values exist then God must also exist. Objective moral values do exist, he asserts, therefore God exists. One might be forgiven for thinking that someone with a Ph.D. In philosophy would be able to formulate a cohesive argument in favour of his assertion that objective moral values do indeed exist. One would be mistaken however. His reasoning is as follows; “objective moral values do exist and deep down we all know it.” This is an utterly asinine philosophical argument that is almost too embarrassing to dignify with a refutation. Nonetheless I shall endeavour to persist.

His argument can, without parody, be translated thus; I have a gut feeling that something is wrong therefore it must be objectively wrong. But there are lots of things that human beings have strong aversions to; consider eating rotten meat for example. Most of us would wretch if we were presented with a platter of semi-decomposed carrion. Our strong abhorrence, or gut feeling that rancid flesh should not be consumed does not mean that it is objectively wrong to do so. There is no universal law that prohibits such an act – plenty of organisms do feed off fetid meat. Humans however, have evolved an innate sense of disgust in response to it as a defence against the potential diseases that we might contract from consuming it.

Similarly, our conscience doesn’t necessitate the existence of a universal code of ethics. It merely necessitates that we have evolved a defence against certain destructive modes of behaviour. If you imagine there are two populations; one in which the people have no qualms about murder, theft and other such detrimental behaviour, and another in which the people have a fully developed conscience that prevents them from committing such actions. It is easy to see how the first population would fail to prosper. Their socially destructive behaviour would prevent the necessary cohesion that is required to persist as a population with for any great length of time. The second population on the other hand would cooperate and trust one another with ease, their society and institutions would flourish and they would have the means to deal with the challenges that face any culture. Whilst the first population are too busy squabbling and killing each other to solve even the simple challenge of making sure everyone gets fed, the second population could gain the strength and resources necessary to form armies and conquer the first population with ease – thus eliminating them, and their destructive habits. It is clear to see why having an aversion towards certain behaviours is an advantage in evolutionary terms, without appealing to the existence of objective values.

 

In order to move on however, I shall be unusually generous and put all that aside. Lets assume for the moment that there is some substance to Craig’s claim that objective moral values do exist. Does it follow from this that God exists?
Craig’s reasoning is predicated upon the assumption that only God could provide the grounding for objective morality. If one subscribes to the ‘divine command theory’ – which states that an act is either good or evil depending on whether God commands it or prohibits it – then there are some problems with this assumption. If we take an act generally considered to be immoral, such as killing a child, for example. Is killing a child wrong because God prohibits it, or does God prohibit killing children because it is intrinsically wrong?

If God prohibits killing a child because it is intrinsically wrong, then it is wrong regardless of whether or not God exists – and thus objective moral values do not necessitate that God exists. If something is right simply because God commands it, and wrong simply because God prohibits it then anything can become right or wrong based upon the whim of God. Thus if God commands a person murder a child (a problem which is amplified by the fact that God does command exactly this in the Bible) then this would be the right thing to do by definition. This renders morality completely subjective, and arbitrary.

Some will respond to this problem by stating that goodness is derived from God’s nature. However this creates a very similar dilemma. Is helping a suffering individual good because it is in God’s nature, or is helping a suffering individual in God’s nature because it is already intrinsically good? The latter option again removes the necessity of God, and the former can be refuted with an example from the Bible. Consider Jeremiah 19 verse 9: “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters”. Here God is causing people to cannibalise their own children – thus we can consider it to be in God’s nature to induce others to eat their own progeny, and as such we can conclude that doing so is good. If one protests that causing people to eat their own offspring is morally wicked then they are either appealing to a moral standard that is beyond the nature of God, or they are saying that God is capable of acting against his own nature. But if it is in God’s nature to be capable of acting against his own nature then the whole argument is rendered meaningless.

Either objective moral values do exist, but God is superfluous – which is contradictory to Craig’s argument. Or objective moral values do not exist, and morality is down to the subjective and arbitrary whims of God – which again, contradicts the original assertion that objective moral values do exist. Craig’s moral argument falls flat on its face.

William Lane Craig doesn’t stop his ethical embarrassment here by any means. In his debate with Arif Ahmed, he openly declared that: “The premise that pointless suffering exists, or gratuitous evil exists is extremely controversial. We are simply not in the position to make these kinds of inductive probability judgements”. What does he mean by this? He appears to be casting doubt on the existence of gratuitous evil, in other words, evil that is without reason, cause or justification. So, if we accept the implications of this, then we must accept that all evil and suffering exists to serve some kind of purpose. What might that purpose be? Well, God’s purpose of course, as Craig states on his website reasonablefaith.org:

“God may well have morally sufficient reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. We all know cases in which we permit suffering because we have morally sufficient reasons for doing so. What Law would have to prove is that it’s improbable that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. But how could he possibly prove that? God’s justifying reasons might never appear in our lifetime or locale or even in this life. Suppose, for example, that God’s purpose for human life is not happiness in this life but the knowledge of God, which is an incommensurable good. It may be the case, for all we know, that only in a world suffused with natural and moral evil would the maximum number of people freely come to know God and find eternal life.”

So, if evil exists to serve a purpose, and that purpose is God’s supreme plan – which is ultimately good (unless you want to concede that God is evil), then it follows logically that all evil is ultimately good. Such a perfect way to commit moral suicide! Although to be fair on Craig, he doesn’t assert that gratuitous evil definitely does not exist. However, his doubtful stance does completely undermine his ability to make any moral judgements whatsoever. If, for example, the torture of a small child for fun cannot definitely be said to be gratuitously evil, and that it might be a part of God’s ultimately good plan, then there is no way to say for definite whether such an act is ultimately good or evil. Thus contrary to his laughably inane assertion that we can just know that something is right or wrong, Craig’s own position actually undermines his ability to make moral judgements.

 

From Craig’s asinine argument from objective morality, to the absurd conclusions that follow inevitably from his scepticism over the existence of gratuitous evil, it is evident that his theological beliefs do nothing to advance any real ethical philosophy. That is not to say that William Lane Craig, is himself devoid of coherent ethics, however I think it is safe to say that they stem from somewhere other than the whims of a supernatural law-giver.

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Proving Man’s Place in Nature

There are those who seek to deny that Homo sapiens are descended from African apes. This post will demonstrate once and for all that the man did indeed evolve from apes, and that we are still apes. Going by comparative morphology, our anatomy is most similar to the great apes (see Fig 1). Genetically we are most similar to Pan troglodytes (chimpanzees), with only 1.6% difference in our genes (Diamond, 1991).

 

There are some differences of course between humans and chimps. One of which is brain size (measured in cubic centimetres). Chimpanzees have a cranial capacity of 300-400 cc (Macdonald, 2009) while humans have a much larger cranial capacity of 1100–1900 cc (Wikipedia, accessed 2012). From this we can draw a simple hypothesis: If humans evolved from apes, we should find evidence of an increase in cranial capacity over time in the fossil record.

 

We can make cranial endocasts of fossil hominins which can be used to give a good estimate of cranial capacity (Johanson, 2006). If we plot the age of the fossils against cranial capacity on a graph, we see very clearly that there was a trend over time towards larger brains (see Fig 2):

Fig 2: A graph showing the increase in hominin cranial capacity over time (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/brainsize.gif)

 

This indisputably shows that there is a trend towards increased cranial capacity over time in the fossil record.

 

We also have genetic evidence to corroborate this. There is a gene called ASPM, which can mutate to cause microcelphaly (a disorder which causes humans to have a greatly reduced cerebral cortex) – from this we can hypothesize that ASPM has something to do with the development of our uniquely large cerebral cortex. When scientists compared the ASPM gene with other species there was clear evidence that it had undergone natural selection in our lineage (because of the number of changes in the coding sequence) (Zimmer, 2005).

 

Fig 3: Fossilized A. afarensis footprints

Another thing that we’d expect to find in the fossil record is species that show a mosaic of features between humans and apes. The most obvious example of this is Australopithecus afarensis. Who had a cranial capacity of between 375 and 550 cc (Talk Origins, accessed 2012) – which is about that of a chimpanzee. Yet we know that A. afarensis could walk on two feet, like a human.  This can be seen from the anatomy of their pelvic structure and their feet (Wikipedia, accessed 2012). We even have fossilized footprints of A. afarensis which show beyond doubt that they walked on two legs (see Fig 3). What we have is a chimp-like creature that walked on two legs like a human. What could this be if not a perfect example of mosaic features in an evolutionary transition?

 

The truth is abundantly clear; Homo sapiens did indeed evolve from African apes. Its also worth bearing in mind that I provided the merest examples of the kinds of evidence we have for this, if you wish to see just how well supported human evolution is, I would recommend reading some of the books listed in the references.

 

For any creationists who might be reading this, I shall leave you with a challenge. Take a look at Fig 4 and tell me which of these specimens are human and which are apes. Let me know in the comments below.

References:

DIAMOND, JARED (1991), Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, Great Britain: Radius

JOHANSON, DONALD & EDGAR, BLAKE (2006), From Lucy To Language, New York: Simon & Schuster

MACDONALD, DAVID W. (2009), The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Oxford: Oxford University Press

ZIMMER, CARL (2005), The Smithsonian Intimate Guide To Human Origins, New York: Harper

 

Talk Origins. Hominid Species. Online. Available from: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/species.html#afarensis [Accessed 21 January 2012]

Wikipedia. Australopithecus afarensis. Online. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australopithecus_afarensis#Skeletal_morphology_and_locomotion [Accessed 21 January 2012]

Wikipedia. Cranial capacity. Online. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranial_capacity [Accessed 21 January 2012]

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What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs, a Response to Ken Ham (Part 1)

“Say the teacher says; ‘millions of years ago’, I get the students to ask; ‘excuse me sir, were you there?'”

I absolutely love the fact that Ken Ham is incapable of seeing the flaws in his logic here, and how the very same logic can be used to refute Christianity. “Excuse me Mr. Ham, were you there when Jesus rose from the dead?… No?…. Well how do you know it happened then?”. The fact that he cannot spot this obvious flaw in his reasoning demonstrates a degree of stupidity that is unfathomable and certainly not something I could express with words.

By your logic Mr. Ham, no one would ever be able to be convicted of any crime ever, because they could simply say ‘Excuse me, were you there when the crime occurred?’ and the Jury would be completely convinced by their flawless defence. Thankfully we don’t live in such a ridiculous world. Ken does a pretty good job of setting the tone for the rest of the talk with this little logical gem though.

His attempt to refute our common ancestry with chimpanzee’s is so moronic that I thought I’d respond in a similar fashion. Look at these two pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you really say these guys aren’t related?

 

But rather than dealing with Ham’s objection on his intellectual level, I thought I’d better address it properly. Humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor around 7 million years ago. 7 million years is a long time, longer than our brains can even comprehend. This is plenty of time for morphological differences to arise in each respective lineage. Chimpanzees as you may or may not have noticed, spend a lot of time in trees, therefore their feet are adapted for being able to grasp branches. Human feet on the other hand (or foot I should say) are adapted for optimum bipedal locomotion. Hence the differences. If you think that refutes evolution Mr. Ham then you really do have another thing coming.

 

His next attempt at refuting evolution is truly brilliant. His argument is that a wombat must have been designed because it’s pouch faces away from it’s head – which prevents dirt from getting inside it and harming it’s offspring. One thing that he neglects to mention is that Koala’s pouches are the same, they face downwards, as described by Richard Dawkins in The Greatest Show On Earth:

 

Williams next mentions the pouch of that iconic Australian animal the koala, which – not a great idea in an animal that spends it’s time clinging to tree trunks – opens downwards, instead of upwards as in a kangaroo. Once again, the reason is a legacy of history. Koalas are descended from a wombat-like ancestor. Wombats are champion diggers

(page 369)

 

It would have been damaging to his argument to mention this of course, so he focuses on the wombat to make his point that all life is designed for a purpose. Well my response is this; what kind of designer would give koalas an upside down pouch?

 

Ah the platypus… For some reason he thinks this is confusing for evolutionists. The platypus actually represents quite a nice transition from egg-laying mammals to placental mammals – it is a living transitional form as it were. It lays eggs like the primitive ancestors of all placental mammals, yet it suckles it’s young, not with specialist teats, but by ‘sweating’ milk, showing how early mammals may have fed their young prior to developing teats. Contrary to your assertions the platypus does not present a serious challenge to evolution, it is simply an interesting creature that harks back to a stage in evolution long since surpassed by most lineages.

 

That’s it for part one of my refutation of Ken Ham’s ‘What Really Happened to The Dinosaurs’ – or as I’d prefer to call it; ‘Lying to Little Children, Who are too Young to Know any Better’. Stay tuned for part two.

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Chimps Are More Human Than You Think

'Redefining human' a chimpanzee demonstrating tool use

Most of you will be aware of the fact that we share an overwhelming amount of our DNA with Chimpanzees, one study even suggests that 99.4% of the most critical DNA sites are identical in the corresponding human and chimp genes (New Scientist, accessed 2011). This makes Chimpanzees our closest living relatives.

 

Upon cursory comparison there appear to be huge differences between such supposedly closely related species. Humans are sophisticated, civilized and highly intelligent, whereas chimpanzees live in the forests, and have not developed civilization, language, and architecture etc. These differences present themselves as some kind of chasm which separates us from them, however in recent years science has shown, disquietingly for some, that chimpanzees are much more like us than we ever imagined.

 

In 1960 primatologist Jane Goodall observed wild chimpanzees using stripped twigs to fish for termites, a discovery which prompted naturalist Louis Leakey to remark: “Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.” (The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, accessed 2011). It was once thought that humans were the only creatures (save for some of our now extinct ancestors) to purposefully make and use tools, hence Leakey’s reaction.

 

Not only do chimpanzees use tools, different chimps from different regions have different methods of tool use, and customs – a phenomena which is described by some as culture (Gruber, Reynolds, Zuberbuhler, 2010).

 

Chimpanzee’s have also been shown to demonstrate non-reciprocal altruism (Science Daily, accessed 2011) – in other words chimpanzees help others without expectation of reward, something else that was once thought to be uniquely human.

 

They can also use symbolic communication (Taglialatela, Russell, Schaeffer, and Hopkins, 2011), (Hopkins and Leaven, 1998) – via manual gestures and sounds. Captive chimps have also been taught sign language (Wikipedia, accessed 2011).

 

Hopefully I have demonstrated that the chasm that appears to separate humans from chimpanzees is in fact illusory. Traits once considered to be unique and defining human characteristics can actually be seen in embryonic form in our cousins the chimpanzees, and this gives some insight into our own evolution. In future posts I shall look into human evolution, and examine how chimp-like creatures developed the traits outlined in this post to eventually become Homo sapiens.

 

References

GRUBER T, REYNOLDS V, and ZUBERBUHLER K (2010) ‘The knowns and unknowns of chimpanzee culture’, Communicative & Integrative Biology, 3 (3), May/June 2010, p. 221 – 223

HOPKINS W and LEAVENS D (1998) ‘Hand Use and Gestural Communication in Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)’, Journal of Comparative Psychology, 112 (1), March 1998, p. 95 – 99

TAGLIALATELA P, RUSSELL J, SCHAEFFER J, and HOPKINS W (2011) ‘Chimpanzee Vocal Signaling Points to a Multimodal Origin of Human Language’, PLoS One, 6 (4), Published online 20 April 2011

 

New Scientist. Chimps are human, gene study implies. Online. Available from: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3744 [Accessed 20 November 2011]

Science Daily. Human-like Altruism Shown in Chimpanzees. Online. Available from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070625085134.htm [Accessed 20 November 2011]

The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada. Chimp Behaviour – Tool Use. Online. Available from: http://www.janegoodall.ca/about-chimp-behaviour-tool-use.php [Accessed 20 November 2011]

Wikipedia. Washoe (chimpanzee). Online. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washoe_%28chimpanzee%29 [Accessed 20 November 2011]

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Why Creationism is Fundamentally Flawed

Here’s WildwoodClaire1 rather amusing video showing creationist Eric Hovind (son of Kent Hovind) summing up exactly what is wrong with creationism:

Please go and subscribe to WildwoodClaire1’s youtube channel you won’t regret it!

 

This clip completely sums up why creationism is fundamentally flawed. “God said it, that settles it” – only creationists would so openly tout their unfounded bias. A bias which is reflected in Answers in Genesis’ statement of faith:

 

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”

 

By their own admission, creationists cannot accept anything that contradicts the Bible. This, if you’re wondering is why debates with creationists are infuriatingly frustrating. Their faith in God’s word is so strong that they literally have to deny reality in order to maintain that faith. This is not me attacking a straw man – this is in their own words, look again at that statement of faith: By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record – nothing you could ever show them would get them to change their minds.

 

Creationists are fundamentally, and irreparably closed-minded. I’m starting to agree with Richard Dawkins – there is no point engaging in debate with creationists – not only are they never going to admit to being wrong, no matter what you show them, but also engaging someone so closed-minded and ignorant is giving far too much over due credence to their ridiculous views.

 

We need to improve the education we get on natural science, especially evolution because clearly people completely misunderstand it – and we need to ridicule the creationist position for what it is; unfounded nonsense.

 

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William Lane Craig’s Unintelligible Stance on Evolution

Craig begins by saying that there are other ‘more subtle’ ways of interpreting Genesis than those of the young earth creationists, claiming that there is lots of evidence from geology about that age of the earth. He then claims to be agnostic about evolution. How, may I ask, is one to be agnostic about evolution? It’s not like the philosophical question of whether or not God exists – for which there is no evidence and one can be agnostic. With evolution there is centuries worth of peer reviewed literature he could look at, the knowledge is freely available, there is no reason to be agnostic. If you don’t know about it, read a book, go to a museum, or talk to some evolutionary biologists – evolution is not something you can claim agnosticism about (unless you just can’t be bothered to look at the knowledge that is out there, but that would be a bit intellectually lazy of you wouldn’t it Mr. Craig?), you either study it and accept the well established facts, or you deny it based upon nothing more than a favour of scripture over observable reality. William Lane Craig is agnostic because he doesn’t want to admit to being a creationist.

 

But he is a creationist, as he explains later in the video. He is ‘honestly open to the evidence’, but isn’t convinced yet as there are ‘problems’ with evolutionary theory. The only thing that there is problems with is your unintelligible stance Mr. Craig. He claims to accept microevolution, but not macroevolution. However, earlier in the video he claims to accept the evidence for an old earth. I have news for you Mr. Craig, microevolution + geological time = macroevolution. Macroevolution is not huge evolutionary leaps in a very short time period, it is huge evolutionary progressions over a vast time period. Macroevolution is the history left by microevolutionary processes. So what is it that you don’t accept Mr. Craig?

 

He claims that macroevolution is a ‘huge extrapolation’ from microevolution. He clearly has no idea what he is talking about, macroevolution is nothing more than an extrapolation from the two things that he claims to accept. He claims there is no evidence for macroevolution… Go to a museum and look at the amazing fossil record Mr Craig! Go and read some papers about the genetic evidence for common descent! Learn about comparative anatomy and taxonomy! The evidence is there, you’re just in denial of it.

 

Craig then claims to be ‘very open minded’ about evolution, in which case he should have no trouble accepting it, except he does. He is a creationist but he’s not a young earth creationist – by his own admission, so why the denial of macroevolution then? What is this based on? He refers to compelling evidence against it – that he never provides, yet he should accept it given that he does not deny geological time, or microevolution. Craig cannot accept that sponges and bats share a common ancestor – on what grounds can he not accept it? It seems like he is arguing from incredulity here – he can’t understand how it could possibly happen, therefore it didn’t happen.

 

He claims that it cannot possibly have happened by random mutations, because the sun would have burnt out before it did. Yes that’s true, if evolution were just based on random mutations and nothing more, but it’s not, I has a highly selective non-random element that can produce exquisite adaptations over time (a time scale, and process that you accept Mr. Craig). If we look at the DNA of bats and sponges we will see clearly evidence of their common ancestry. Craig clearly doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to evolution, his acceptance of geological time, and microevolution is contradicted by his inability to accept macroevolution, and his arguments from incredulity demonstrate a complete ignorance of evolutionary theory.

 

You aren’t agnostic about evolution you’re a creationist. You have difficulty accepting established facts, and demonstrate an unwillingness to correct this despite claiming to be open minded. Mr. Craig, you’re an unintelligible fool.

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