Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What does seeing half-moons during midday have to do with demonstrating God?

Heck if I know.

I came across this apologist on the Atheist Experience Facebook feed. I couldn't help myself, I had to dive in.


Wall of text!
Both statements are excellent arguments. I deeply apologize for my misconception and my resulting statement. It is next to impossible to explain things to you from my end but I have found reading your comments that your own arguments supports the idea of a GOD. --------------> 1)You believe you come from star dust which originates from an exploding star; well when a star explodes it emits particles at such high velocities that it will take thousands of star explosions to emit significant amounts of particles that will converge at a point in the universe. --------> 2) you believe that humans evolved from a unicellular organism; well, it is known that a unicellular organism may reproduce by cell division, in which case instead of reproducing may grow due to some unknown phenomenon. But the growth process is not intelligently coordinated to guarantee that the unicellular organism will evolve organs, brains, chemical and hormone process to facilitate its existence. In addition, that unicellular organism cannot ensure its own food supply or guarantee its existence against attack from viruses or bacteria as it evolves. Finally, we know all things tend to disperse or get contaminated in time, what are the chances that the building blocks of life could form perfectly so as to be some form of life. for added measure, we know a human being, though supposedly evolved will likely suffer contamination if a major surgery is performed in the open; what are the chances that a unicellular organism can mutate into some other creature without suffering any contamination. ------------->3) the earth is over 70% composed of water, we know water is made up of 2 molecules of hydrogen and molecule of oxygen. Both hydrogen and oxygen are highly volatile. In addition, hydrogen is extremely light and quickly escapes gravity. It may be possible for two different elements containing hydrogen and oxygen to react to produce water, but what can these elements be such that they can survive extreme temperatures and be combined in sufficient quantities as to produce the large quantities of water found on the planet? where did the water come from and how did it form.----------------> 4) we have heard the random explanation that the light from the moon is a reflection of the sun. Now I have seen a half moon and a full moon both at mid day and mid night, if the light from the moon is a reflection of the sun, why the half moons? ------------> 5) a careful study of ecosystems suggest a delicate balance between the different forms of life and scientist have predicted that some ecosystems are so finely balanced that the destruction of one species will result in the death of all the other species. if this is true, how can and independently evolving creature plan its future such that its life requirements will perfectly match that of other independently evolving creatures so that it can be a part of an ecosystem?----------------------> If you can answer these questions convincingly I have other questions in store for you. I believe from your point of view you will find GOD simply by looking at the evidence you have.

Here's my response.. though since I didn't proofread/spell check when I posted, I don't do that here either. I must symbolically take responsibility for my mistakes.

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"1)You believe you come from star dust which originates from an exploding star; well when a star explodes it emits particles at such high velocities that it will take thousands of star explosions to emit significant amounts of particles that will converge at a point in the universe. "

Okay, what does that have to do with a god? There's hundreds of billions of stars over hundreds of billions of galaxies tens of billions of years. We have sufficient matter.

"2) you believe that humans evolved from a unicellular organism; ... the growth process is not intelligently coordinated to guarantee that the unicellular organism will evolve organs, brains, chemical and hormone process to facilitate its existence..."

Of course it's not guaranteed. You're kind of looking at it backwards, as though brains, organs, etc, is some predetermined goal. Evolution produces variation. Some aspects help the organisms survive, and some don't. Over generations, this causes the genome to trend towards more environmentally suitable configurations. Brains, organs, etc, are the result.

Not all lineages evolved them, and they're still filling niches, and thriving. What's actually observed is that organisms will adapt to their environmenst without any aid from an intelligence. In fact, we find no indication that an intelligence is involved in any way, shape or form.

"...In addition, that unicellular organism cannot ensure its own food supply or guarantee its existence against attack from viruses or bacteria as it evolves... "

You seem to have a fixation on "garauntee" and "ensure"... and I don't know why. Those organisms that couldn't find enough food, or fend off/avoid attackers died. "Extinction" is what we call it when a species as a whole fails to do this, which has happened to about 99% of all species in history. The most basic survival mechanism is mass reproduction, which bacteria do very well. All they need is a small percentage of the following generations to find food in order to propagate the species.

"Finally, we know all things tend to disperse or get contaminated in time, what are the chances that the building blocks of life could form perfectly so as to be some form of life."

What are the chances that dripping water forms into perfeft ice cones during winter on the edge of the roof? Well, if the rules of the universe work in a certain way, it's just to be expected. The same goes for abiogenesis. In fact, the Urey-Miller experiemnts, which have been repeated over and over (for both amino acids and protein), indicate that these "building blocks of life" can spontaneously form if the conditions are right. It's just to be expected, based on how the universe works.

No, we don't know that all things can get "dispersed" or "contaminated". Can one poison a carbon atom? At some level, the concept stops making sense. Like a forest fire, some things "cascade"/"chain-reaction" by nature. Life is one such thing, to the point where it's just expected that it'd counter entropy and "contamination", like a forest fire counters cooling down.

"for added measure, we know a human being, though supposedly evolved will likely suffer contamination if a major surgery is performed in the open; what are the chances that a unicellular organism can mutate into some other creature without suffering any contamination."

Apples and oranges. Humans are not unicellular organisms... and operate on a very different set of contexts. It'd be like saying that since a piece of bread can become moldy, that therefore one of the carbon atoms of the bread can become moldy.

I don't understand your objection. Even if a bacterium dies because of "contamination"... then it dies. And? Some people do die from infections caught during surgery. That doesn't mean the whole human race perishes.

I haven't found that any of your objectiosn make any sense, yet.

"3) the earth is over 70% composed of water, we know water is made up of 2 molecules of hydrogen and molecule of oxygen. Both hydrogen and oxygen are highly volatile."

This is basic chemistry. On their own, hygrogen and oxygen are unstable. Guess what happens when you combust oxygen and hydrogen together? You get water. Water is a STABLE/Inert state of the two elements. In fact, it's really really really hard to keep them from entering a stable state with each other. The water on this planet is when a whole bunch of volatile oxygen and hyrdogen succame to their volitlity.

It's just to be expected when one has a rudimentary grasp of chemistry.

"... In addition, hydrogen is extremely light and quickly escapes gravity. ..."

No. No it doesn't. You're talking about BOYANCY. It's not that they "escape gravity"... it's that the heavier gasses sink lower, forcing them to the top. Do you know how boats float? It's the same thing.

Then again, most hydrogen has already combined with other elements, and is no longer a light gas.

"It may be possible for two different elements containing hydrogen and oxygen to react to produce water, but what can these elements be such that they can survive extreme temperatures and be combined in sufficient quantities as to produce the large quantities of water found on the planet?"

What do you mean by survive extreme temperatures? We'd actually expect to see more water if stuff was superheated. When hydrogen is lcoked into different molecular structures, it's not free to combust with oxygen to form water. But if that stuff was liquified, and eventually vaporized, and even turned into plasma, that'd free up the oxygen and hydrogen to do their thing with each other, and become water.

Again, you're kind of looking at it backwards.

"... where did the water come from and how did it form... "

Seriously? Stars take elements and fuse them into heavier elements... eventually into oxygen. That volatile oxygen and hydogen enter a stable/inert state as water, through combustion. That's where water "comes from".

Where did the matter/energy come from "before" the Big Bang "come from", to start that whole process? Heck if I know... but you'd actually have to demonstrate that a sentient being was responsible if you want us to believe that.

"light from the moon is a reflection of the sun. Now I have seen a half moon and a full moon both at mid day and mid night, if the light from the moon is a reflection of the sun, why the half moons? "

The only way you'd get full moons is if (in terms of the 2D plane of the solar system) you, the sun and the moon, were all in a line. If, however, the angle of Sun -> You -> Moon were 90 degrees, you could look off into the sky during midday (standing, looking up at the sun), and then look over to the east or west, and see the moon, to the right or left, from the side. If you saw a half moon that was directly overhead, as opposed to at a lower angle, THAT would be weird.

Bah, wish I had a whiteboard... I don't understand what the objection is.

"a careful study of ecosystems suggest a delicate balance between the different forms of life and scientist have predicted that some ecosystems are so finely balanced that the destruction of one species will result in the death of all the other species. if this is true,"

Some species are more robust than others. Mice, cockroaches, bacteria, mushrooms... there's lots of species that have little dependency on the larger ecosystem. No, it wouldn't "result in the death of all other species". Mass extinctions, if there's a fast enough change in climate, sure. When an ecosystem "collapses", it doesn't completely vanish. Usually other species fill in the niches fairly quickly.

" if this is true, how can and independently evolving creature plan its future such that its life requirements will perfectly match that of other independently evolving creatures so that it can be a part of an ecosystem?"

... they don't. Again, you're looking at it backwards. If we have 100 dice, and we throw cast all of them... if the requirement for survival is getting 6-pips, we'd expect to see maybe about 16, on average, get that value. The dice didn't plan it. It's the luck of the draw... and the rest "didn't survive".

What you're looking at, in terms of currently existing species, are the ones who managed to survive... not due to "planning out their future". They're the ones who got lucky... outside of just being well suited to their environments. This is bound to happen by statistics alone.

Have you ever heard of the wolf and deer population simulations? It's a classic computer science programming example. The idea is that, without any planning, or any intelligence, really, involved, a balance is struck on their own. If there's too many deer, the wolf populations explode... causing more deer to die, causing some of the wolves to starve and die off.. which causes the deer populaton to be more free of predators, and increase in population agian... and repeat. It's a self-regulating system.

The objection would be like wondering how all the water at the surface of a water puddle just knows to be all level. Life is a lot more resiliant then you give it credit for.

"If you can answer these questions convincingly I have other questions in store for you. I believe from your point of view you will find GOD simply by looking at the evidence you have."

Uh... what evidence? You didn't even have a single salient point in that wall of text, let alone a single shred of evidence that positively supports the concept of a deity. If nothing else, it was just back-to-back Arguments from Ignorance... if you had actually bothered to make any points.

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This person was still debating about the moon thing, so I followed up with:

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Oh my god! Here, I drew you a freaking picture. Do you understand now?

Diagram of sunlight, the moon and the Earth


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I think this person is a geocentrist. Maybe my fancy drawing will deconvert him/her from that notion.

Update: I had these followup thoughts. The person hasn't responded yet.

Actually, it occurred to me that I made a mistake in even answering those questions. If the person was honestly curious about those topics, I'd be happy to explain what I know about them.
... but that's not what it's about.
It's a game of "poking holes in science", where, even if I supplied sufficient answers to the questions given, if there's any point at all where we don't know the answer... the apologist thinks he/she has won in some way... and that therefore their god assertion wins by default. It's the God of the Gaps.
By answering those questions, I was playing into that game, implicitly conceding that God becomes more likely if science doesn't know EVERYTHING. Without reinforcing the idea that, even if we didn't know the answer to any of those objections, we've made exactly, unambiguously, zero progress towards demonstrating a god.
One cannot build knowledge on ignorance. That's just not how it works.
The idea that we can support the claim, that there's a dragon in the refrigerator, because we don't know what else is inside it, is absurd... or that Zeus is real because we don't know where lightning comes from... but that's the basis of this person's entire approach to "evidence for God".
It's a cataclysmic epistemological collapse... one that renders us unable to effectively know anything about the world.




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