Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Evolution is False - The Law of Cause and Effect


Chipmunk
Someone decided to list 10 reasons why evolution is false. I decided to go through them. Here's my list addressing them so far:

10. Pagan Origins of Evolution
9. Planetary Habitability of Earth
8. Hoaxes
7. Irreducible Order of Life
6. DNA
5. C-14 Dating in Fossil Fuels


Here's today's argument as to why evolution is false.

4. The Law of Cause and Effect: This law is that every effect has a greater cause. Trace the effect of every cause back and there is the great cause of all. Darwinists assert that the Big Bang caused all, but its effect was caused by an atemporal void, a timeless nothing. This is to say that something came from nothing without a cause contradicting the Law of Cause and Effect. Read more about this here: Irrefutable Proof that God is the Cause of the Universe

It's a cosmological argument... sort of. As of this date, the Atheist Experience has broached this topic about 42 or 43 times. It's hardly a new, or compelling, argument.

I don't know that I'm terribly inspired by #4. I already spent a bit of effort on cosmological arguments (and here too), and the faulty idea of applying the "law of cause and effect" to the Big Bang.

In short, it's a question of scope. Our understating of causality breaks down at singularities and/or Big Bangs (there's debate about whether it was a singularity), therefore, it's gibberish to apply the "law of cause and effect" outside the scope of normal space and time.

I've compared it to listening to someone talk about a trip to Mars, he or she is planning, via a hot air balloon. This person doesn't appear to understand the scope of what hot air balloons need to operate.

The argument also suffers from a similar core logical problem as the argument from DNA=Code, in that it's inferring a conclusion that's untested, which is also why so many theists find the cosmological argument compelling. It sounds like a logical conclusion. In fact, it's a hypothesis - one that the apologists have not even bothered to confirm with empirical evidence.

This problem is further exasperated by the fact he's trying to extrapolate conclusions about a context that is so unfathomably extreme and bizarre that all our scientific knowledge breaks down - even causality. You'd think this fact would trigger some red flags in his mind - nope! Not when we're grasping at straws in our desperate scouring of reality to fulfill confirmation bias!

Further, it's essentially a black-swan fallacy (I'm giddy that I found a Conservapedia reference for this - not because it's academic... just, you know...). Since we've supposedly never come across an uncaused cause, therefore they don't exist... except for their one exception - God (yet another logical fallacy - special pleading). If uncaused causes were demonstrable on a regular basis, the whole argument collapses, because the universe could have just been another uncaused cause. In this case, the author would have to prove a negative, which is impossible.

Keep in mind, we'd only need to have that one uncaused cause - the Big Bang. Apologist nostrils flare at the notion, yet they turn right around and suggest that an uncaused timeless brainless mind did it. Occam's razor would have a field day with that one.

The Law of Cause and Effect: This law is that every effect has a greater cause.
It's interesting that he should inject "greater". I understand the basic concept of causality; that one event causes another... but he's loading the language in such a way that presupposes his conclusion. If we keep going back and finding "greater" causes, what is the "Greatest Cause"? God, right? So yes, nice loaded language he has there.

Moving on from the wordsmithing, it suffers from an even more severe problem: it's wrong.

Quantum physics has a few concepts that defy this basic premise. Virtual particles, or radioactive decay, for instance. If it turns out that we find events that are uncaused, then why couldn't the universe be?

Darwinists assert that the Big Bang caused all, but its effect was caused by an atemporal void, a timeless nothing.
Setting aside that "Darwinist" should read "Scientific community", shouldn't it be otherwise be "Big Bang-ist", or something? Evolution and the Big Bang aren't even in the same field of study. One is biology, and the other is cosmology/physics. I'm not going to ask a marine biologist for expert knowledge on how MOSFET transistors work. I'd ask an electronics engineer/physicist.

Besides the terminology, the assertion is a bit of a straw man. Scientists don't actually assert anything as truth about what happened "before" the Big Bang. All we know is that this event, that's labelled "The Big Bang" occurred about 13.5 billion years ago, where there was a rapid hot expansion of energy/matter. Everything regarding why that happened is mostly speculation at this point.

Keep in mind that this also means that creationist assertions about the Big Bang are also unsupported by evidence. The fact we have little data on "before" the Big Bang cuts both ways. Time as we know it probably wasn't quite operational yet.

I'm sorry, author, but you don't get to lie about the science to make your case - not that the case would be salient if you weren't.

Do you know what scientists say about what caused the Big Bang?

"We don't know."

Further, the Big Bang didn't "cause all" (I'm not even sure what that means). After the Planck time, the Big Bang left behind a hot energy soup, which eventually cooled into different particles like quarks, and then electrons/neutrons/protons, and eventually into hydrogen. After that, it was the laws of the universe which caused the hydrogen to condense, heat up and trigger nuclear fusion, which created heavier elements that were spread around when the first stars died, the dust having then collected into asteroids, and then planetoids and then planets, etc. The Big Bang was merely the first step in all that. Basically, the Big Bang was the "first fart".

This is to say that something came from nothing without a cause contradicting the Law of Cause and Effect.
Ah, okay. That's why you were lying in the previous sentence - to set up your punchline. You use a lie to illustrate a contradiction with a logical fallacy (Black Swan) that you put together, to make scientists appear dumb.

If you want to know what physicists think about "something coming from nothing", you ought to watch a lecture by Lawrence Krauss about the topic. In short, scientists mean something different by "nothing" than creationists do.

The author is attempting to apply a time-dependent concept - causality - in a context where time becomes warped beyond recognition. Does he not see the problem with that?

I looked at their "Irrefutable Proof that God Exists" page. The link they have on the page is malformed, but I figured it out. Let's just say that article is on my todo-list. They have odd notions about the word "irrefutable."

So yeah - that's it. Reason #4 why evolution is false is yet another PRATT ("Previously Refuted a Thousand Times")

What's worse is that this has nothing to do with whether evolution is true or not. It could be that God made evolution happen the way we've discovered it to work. It could be that evolution is how God decided to make humans. You know, "theistic evolution." The fact is, evolutionary theory is well supported with multiple independent lines of evidence, regardless of whether God gave the Big Bang a kick to the pants.

The basic cosmological argument, at best, is an argument as to why God needs to exist, but there's zero logical connection to evolutionary theory, unless they're making several unspoken assumptions here.

This is a complete and utter red herring.

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I award no points for a logical connection to evolutionary theory. I award no points for actually addressing evolutionary theory. I award no points for successfully making an argument.

Argument score: 0 out of 10
Total score: 4.5 out of 70