A Happy Atheist Challenges The Angry Atheists With The Difference Between A Fact And A Value

I have read several articles by John Gray and enjoy his writing and insight.  I know when an author is connecting with something important to me because I talk out loud while I am reading it.  I mumbled pretty much the whole time I was reading this one. I had to stop and reread several paragraphs for effect, and kept interrupting my wife to read several of his more powerful points to her. Yes, I am a nerd. This essay put into words a number of things I have been thinking.

Gray is not a believer, and so he has a very different outlook than I do (as a Christian), yet his awareness of the history of philosophy allows him to see the naked spots in the emperors wardrobe. He is disenchanted by the vocal tribe of evangelistic atheists that seem to be known for their pulpit-pounding-religion-hating self righteousness. (Dawkins, Harris, etc.) And he takes them to task, not because of their unbelief but because of their inconsistencies in applying what they believe.  He is willing to explore the assumptions beneath their beliefs, and finds them to be often unreasonable.

In this essay, Gray very briefly chronicles the racist behavior of 19th and 20th century evolutionary atheists.  Then he freely acknowledges that while modern atheists disavow these beliefs, they have repeated some of the same intellectual mistakes as their forbears. They have failed to acknowledge the difference between facts and values.  And this is a dialogue-ender if you happen to disagree with them because you will be talking about your values while they dismiss you as unscientific. They believe that their values are scientific, and therefore as unassailable as discussing gravity.  And sadly, too often this leads them to view their opponents with patronizing contempt.

By the way, this was the same problem with the communism of Russian and China. Marx’s writings insisted that his view of economics was “scientific.”

I paused to read several parts of this essay more than once, not only to understand his observations, but also to enjoy them.   I disagree with his view of the world, but enjoy his intellectual honesty and clear view of the logical problems in the foundation of the new atheism.

“It has often been observed that Christianity follows changing moral fashions, all the while believing that it stands apart from the world. The same might be said, with more justice, of the prevalent version of atheism. If an earlier generation of unbelievers shared the racial prejudices of their time and elevated them to the status of scientific truths, evangelical atheists do the same with the liberal values to which western societies subscribe today – while looking with contempt upon “backward” cultures that have not abandoned religion. The racial theories promoted by atheists in the past have been consigned to the memory hole – and today’s most influential atheists would no more endorse racist biology than they would be seen following the guidance of an astrologer. But they have not renounced the conviction that human values must be based in science; now it is liberal values which receive that accolade. There are disputes, sometimes bitter, over how to define and interpret those values, but their supremacy is hardly ever questioned. For 21st century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.”

“For 21st Century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.”

Some other big ideas from this essay:

  • Atheism is not monolithic, and most of the values (and fact claims) advocated by modern skeptics are not self evident, and are not agreed on by everyone in their camp. This alone should challenge their confusion of facts and values.  I have some atheist friends that like to point out how hard it is to find Christians to agree on any matter of doctrine. Well, evidently they live in the same world.
  • Many of the new atheists are ignorant of the nature of their own beliefs. They take their own view of the world for granted and are unwilling to subject it to the same intellectual scrutiny that they demand from others.
  • New Atheists have largely ignored the writings of Nietzsche. Why? Gray writes, “The reason Nietzsche has been excluded from the mainstream of contemporary atheist thinking is that he exposed the problem atheism has with morality. It’s not that atheists can’t be moral – the subject of so many mawkish debates. The question is which morality an atheist should serve.”  Which is to say that Scientific atheism does NOT lead to a self evident view of the moral world. It cannot answer the most basic questions about how we should live without departing from its limiting scientific commitments. Further, many of the tenets of humanism advocated by atheists actually derive from Judeo-Christian religious tradition.
  • The hostility to religion that has been on display from the evangelistic atheists doesn’t make any rational sense.  After mentioning several influential atheists from the past that were NOT hostile to religion, Gray writes, “Above all, these unevangelical atheists accepted that religion is definitively human. Though not all human beings may attach great importance to them, every society contains practices that are recognisably religious. Why should religion be universal in this way? For atheist missionaries this is a decidedly awkward question. Invariably they claim to be followers of Darwin. Yet they never ask what evolutionary function this species-wide phenomenon serves. There is an irresolvable contradiction between viewing religion naturalistically – as a human adaptation to living in the world – and condemning it as a tissue of error and illusion. What if the upshot of scientific inquiry is that a need for illusion is built into in the human mind? If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?”

I disagree with Gray on much of this, but his point is a good one. If atheism and evolution is true, then it follows that religion is a survival adaptation.  If that is true, why so much angst over gene expression?

Source: What scares the new atheists | John Gray | World news | The Guardian

The Evidence and The Conclusions. Anthropologist Found to Be Falsifying Evidence for 30 Years

Evidence & Conclusions

I recently saw this article about Professor Reiner Protsch. He taught at a German university for the last 30 years.  And it turns out that his status as an expert in dating various anthropological finds is not only suspect, he has been shown to be a complete fraud. Indeed many of his “facts” were manufactured.

According to Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist who discovered the hoax, “Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago.”


It seems that in spite of “peer review” the scientific community is really vulnerable to people manufacturing “evidence” to fill in the gaps for conclusions they have already made.  This is true even when their experts don’t even know how to run a carbon dating machine.  And it can go on for decades. The key is that the lies have to fit in with what the scientific community wants to believe. If your lies are inside the box they probably won’t be questioned. In fact it was only when a huge amount of money was at stake that someone started doing some fact checking.  Others have been challenging the “sacred cow” of peer review as being unreliable.

After I stopped laughing (because I have met more than my share of arrogant, table-pounding scientists), I realized that this is actually a sad situation for everyone.  It is horrible when the truth is handled this way.   It should lead the rest of us to  be skeptical of what we are told, even by the “experts.”  And while peer review is important, and the concept is admirable, we can’t even assume that 30 years of peer review in the “hard sciences” is fool proof.  Many well intended scientists like to speak as if their pronouncements are beyond questioning, that they are the only source of pure knowledge.  I would like to think that this will chasten the scientific community into a place of greater humility, but I am not holding my breath.

This is the conversation that came to mind when I read the article:

Skeptic: Do you believe in evolution?
Evolutionist: Not really. It is a fact. I believe in evolution the same way I believe in gravity.  Anyone that even questions evolution is clearly a blind religious zealot with no regard for the facts.
Skeptic: Why do you say it is a “fact?”
Evolutionist: Besides the obvious reality that the vast majority of scientists believe it, there is all the evidence. It is incontrovertible. Let me give you some examples….
Skeptic: So since you believe in evolution because of the evidence, if the evidence changed, or it was found to be incorrect or falsified, then obviously you would change your position that evolution is a fact.
Evolutionist: Well… not exactly. I might change what I believe about how evolution happened, but not THAT it happened.  It is undeniable that all living creatures descended from common ancestors.
Skeptic: Why do you say that it is “undeniable that all living creatures descended from common ancestors” by evolution?
Evolutionist: Because of the evidence.
Skeptic: So if you learned that the much of evidence that lead you to believe that “all living creatures descended from common ancestors” turned out to be totally incorrect, or worse an intentional lie, you would still believe it anyway? You wouldn’t be willing to rethink your conclusion? You would just rearrange some of the details? Is there any finding that would urge you to rethink your position?
Evolutionist: Why do you hate science?

Recent Philosophical and Scientific Challenges to Darwinism

Here are some highlights from a worthwhile piece at the Intercollegiate Review. The article is an excerpt from the Book, “Darwin Day In America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science”  The title alone is fascinating and points to something that is blind to many of my science-loving friends that don’t seem to understand the difference between science and philosophy.

Perhaps most interesting to me is the way that any dissent on the topic of evolution, even when based on scientific observations and coming from other scientists and atheists is treated as “dangerous.”

Perhaps most interesting to me is the way that any dissent on the topic of evolution, even when based on scientific observations and coming from other scientists/atheists is treated as “dangerous.”  Scientists have felt oppressed in the past, and these feelings are justified. They felt that open inquiry was not allowed.  Seems like they are returning the favor.  We look down at radical islamic countries with their anti-blasphemy laws, but we have our own blasphemy code.  If you suggest that maybe, perhaps, that possibly darwinism doesn’t exactly follow from the evidence itself… you may find angry crowds gathering around you with a heap of stones.

Now listen to John West for yourself:


“If someone prior to 2012 had predicted that Oxford University Press would publish a book with the title Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, one might have wondered about his sanity, or at least about how familiar he was with current discourse in elite academia. But Oxford did in fact publish the book, and the intellectual aftershocks have yet to subside.

“The book’s author, philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a professor of long standing at New York University and the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and election to such august bodies as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. It is a testament to Professor Nagel’s stature that his dissent from Darwinian theory was allowed to be published at all. But his stature has not prevented a flood of abuse and even occasional suggestions of creeping senility….

“Nagel attracted special displeasure for praising Darwin skeptics like mathematician David Berlinski and intelligent-design proponents like biochemist Michael Behe and philosopher of science Stephen Meyer. As the New York Times explained, many of Nagel’s fellow academics view him unfavorably “not just for the specifics of his arguments but also for what they see as a dangerous sympathy for intelligent design.” Now there is a revealing comment: academics, typically blasé about everything from justifications of infanticide to the pooh-poohing of pedophilia, have concluded that it is “dangerous” to give a hearing to scholars who think nature displays evidence of intelligent design.

“Nagel ultimately offered a simple but profound objection to Darwinism: “Evolutionary naturalism provides an account of our capacities that undermines their reliability, and in doing so undermines itself.” In other words, if our mind and morals are simply the accidental products of a blind material process like natural selection acting on random genetic mistakes, what confidence can we have in them as routes to truth?

“The basic philosophical critique of Darwinian reductionism offered by Nagel had been made before, perhaps most notably by Sir Arthur Balfour, C. S. Lewis, and Alvin Plantinga. But around the same time as the publication of Nagel’s book came new scientific discoveries that undermined Darwinian materialism as well. In the fall of 2012, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project released results showing that much of so-called junk DNA actually performs biological functions. The ENCODE results overturned long-repeated claims by leading Darwinian biologists that most of the human genome is genetic garbage produced by a blind evolutionary process. At the same time, the results confirmed predictions made during the previous decade by scholars who think nature displays evidence of intelligent design.

“Even critics of Darwin’s Doubt found themselves at a loss to come up with a convincing answer to Meyer’s query about biological information. University of California at Berkeley biologist Charles Marshall, one of the world’s leading paleontologists, attempted to answer Meyer in the pages of the journal Science and in an extended debate on British radio. But as Meyer and others pointed out, Marshall tried to explain the needed information by simply presupposing the prior existence of even more unaccounted-for genetic information. “That is not solving the problem,” said Meyer. “That’s just begging the question.”

“C. S. Lewis perceptively observed in his final book that “nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her.” Lewis’s point was that old paradigms often persist because they blind us from asking certain questions. They begin to disintegrate once we start asking the right questions. Scientific materialism continues to surge, but perhaps the right questions are finally beginning to be asked.

“It remains to be seen whether as a society we will be content to let those questions be begged or whether we will embrace the injunction of Socrates to “follow the argument . . . wherever it may lead.” The answer to that question may determine our culture’s future.”

via The Book That Deflated Darwin Day | Intercollegiate Review.

The Owl or the Egg

‘You remember the old puzzle as to whether the owl came from the egg or the egg from the owl. The modern acquiescence in universal evolutionism is a kind of optical illusion, produced by attending exclusively to the owl’s emergence from the egg. We are taught from childhood to notice how the perfect oak grows from the acorn and to forget that the acorn itself was dropped by a perfect oak. We are reminded constantly that the adult human being was an embryo, never that the life of the embryo came from two adult human beings. We love to notice that the express engine of today is the descendant of the “Rocket”; we do not equally remember that the “Rocket” springs not from some even more rudimentary engine, but from something much more perfect and complicated than itself—namely, a man of genius. The obviousness or naturalness which most people seem to find in the idea of emergent evolution thus seems to be a pure hallucination.’

CS Lewis—from “Is Theology Poetry?” (The Weight of Glory)




Everything you have heard about evolution is a lie!!! in a new book, which I admit I haven’t read, but I did get a good chuckle out of the synopsis, Dr. Aaron G. Filler is going to set the record straight. For all of you who chucked your bible in the garbage because you believed that you descended from Apes, prepare for the shock of it all: you believed a lie!

There is now COMPELLING EVIDENCE, even more compelling that the indisputable evidence we had before, but threw away so we could sell more books, compelling evidence that things happened the other way around. APES ACTUALLY DESCENDED FROM US! This explains a lot, especially if you watch wrestling on TV.

I actually am not making this up. look for yourself on Amazon

I agree with Malcom Muggeridge who said that in the future a retrospecitve glance at evolution will view the whole thing as one of the great jokes of history.

Mutations and Evolution, it Doesn’t Add Up

I am just a community college student, but I like to actually think when I am in class. And recently in my human physiology class, we were studying DNA replication and the whole issue of mutations. My professor, Steve Langjahr (one of the best teachers I have ever had) mentioned that sometimes mutations can be beneficial. The result: benefit to the genetics of the species in particular and the gene pool in general. He did admit that this was rare, but said that it was possible. This is of course the operating assumption of evolution. The mechanism that makes natural selection possible is beneficial mutations. This got me to thinking about mutations and the scientific basis for evolution. It sounds plausible on the surface, but when I really started thinking about it, this idea seemed very unscientific to me. Here are a few things that came into my mind:

1. When it comes to mutations and heritability (the ability to pass the mutation, good or bad to your offspring) there are 2 kinds of cells. There are sex cells, which are found in the ovaries and testes-these produce cells capable of sexual reproduction. And there are somatic cells, which are pretty much everything else. The only cells that are involved in sexual reproduction, from a genetic standpoint, are your sex cells. So any other mutations, even though they may conceivably be beneficial, will not harm or benefit your offspring genetically, because they do not pass on to your children unless they affect your gonads. Practically speaking, unless the mutation affects your sperm or ova, it will not help evolution. This takes the vast majority of all possible mutations out of the game of natural selection. Additionally not all mutations of sex cells are passed along to all offspring. Some are recessive.

2. The vast majority of mutations that are translated into protein production are either neutral (because they are in an incodon, aportion of the DNA that is “cut out”) , harmful or even lethal. Whether the mutation is a substitution, insertion, or deletion of a base in the DNA sequence, most mutations that register a noticeable effect are deleterious to the organism. In fact, it is hard to find substantive instances of beneficial mutations that do not simply involve variety within a species. On the web plenty of table pounding evolutionists can point to all kinds of bacteria and yeast that learned to do circus tricks in a petry dish. But this is a far cry from an organism morphing into another organism, and a far cry from showing examples in nature. I read one example on the web of a man who offered as evidence of beneficial mutations, a report that a frame shift DNA mutation produced a new enzyme that worked 1% as efficiently as the normal enzymes. It could just be me, but that doesn’t sound like forward progress. A few examples of the harmful mutations include cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and sickle cell anemia. This is a real serious problem for evolution, scientifically it is the exact opposite of what evolutionists postulate.

3. For a mutation to “move” evolution along, it must be so helpful that it increases a creature’s chances of survival. It is plain by examining ourselves or many other animals that we can live just fine without many of the supposed adaptations that have “evolved” to make us what we are. Examples: Eyebrows, fingernails, tastebuds, etc. We can live just fine without a spleen, or tonsils. You get the idea. The theory says that the mutations involved in natural selection are so beneficial that they give me survival advantage to the mutant above those around it. Everyone else dies off while the mutant survives.

4. To support evolution, a mutation must not only be beneficial, but it must be heritable (as above #1) and increase the likelihood of reproduction. Let’s say that I had a son who was born with a helpful mutation such enhanced night vision. This would only make a difference if it resulted in my son being more likely to reproduce than his classmates, who would eventually die off because they were unfit. Furthermore, he would have to find a female that he would be able to reproduce with. Some mutations are so radical that they would prevent sexual reproduction unless your mate had the identical mutation (think of donkeys and horses, chickens and falcons can’t reproduce either). Furthermore, as it is, not all “fully evolved” creatures are able to reproduce because of hostile conditions. (e.g. dear competing for a mate, the vast majority of crocodile eggs do not hatch and produce an adult crocodile who reproduces). From a plausibility stand point, here is what bothers me. If a mutation was so small and gradual that it allowed for reproduction it is unlikely that it would have such massive survival value that it would promote natural selection. On the other hand, if a mutation was so radical as to be of great survival benefit it is likely to prevent sexual reproduction.

5. Statistical probability. Admittedly evolutionary biologists have a hard time coming up with anything but imaginary examples of beneficial mutations to support the theory. They can show how existing variety within a species can benefit an organism, a la the black butterflies in the smog, or the drug resistant bacteria. But coming up with mutations that account for a change from one species to another, let alone one genus to another is a tougher row to hoe. This should cause some sleepless nights, especially in light of:
a. The current rate of mutations is more than ever in history because of an increased amount of mutagens in the environment. There are more mutations and more chances of mutations than previously because there are more causes of mutations.
b. Increased population. Let’s think of humans. There are about 6 billion of us on the earth now, more than ever before. Much more than ever before. The rate of reproduction is millions of times greater than it ever has been in the long history of anthropology. The amount of DNA transcription and replication that occurs in one year now, would have taken thousands or millions of years in the past. The mathematical conditions that would need to exist for random mutations to produce benefits are all around us.
c. Medical science has preserved lives and extended our life span more than we have ever seen. Additionally, medicine has enabled people that would not have been able to survive and reproduce to do just that.
The situation is a prime biological stage to demonstrate evolution through mutation. We are more likely than ever to see mutations, and for mutated people to survive and reproduce.

So what has this produced for us? It hasn’t produced any evolution, and it hasn’t lead evolutionary biologists to write a new playbook. To suggest that evolution is unscientific is a form of flat-earth techno-blasphemy. I thought that one of the tenets of science was falsifiability? I thought that we are supposed to change our views when information becomes more clear, or the evidence points in a different direction. I don’t believe in evolution because I am a Christian, and I believe that God made all things in 6 days and all very good. But I admit that what I believe is not pure science, it is a philosophy, it is faith. Though I believe it is a faith with scientific support, that is another discussion. Sadly, many biologists won’t admit the same…namely that this idea is a philosophy and not science. One of the prime evidences of this is that some won’t allow it to be disproved by the facts.


Photo used by permission AJ Cann. Some Rights Reserved