February 2011 – Page 2 – The Wayward Willis Podcast

Complexity Does Not Equal Intelligence

Disclaimer: I’m not a scientist, but I did once stay at a Holiday Inn Express.

Intelligent Design (ID) or as I prefer to call it, Incompetent Design, advocates have stated that the universe, the Earth, and the human body are so complex they couldn’t possibly have “just happened” or evolved. The Irreducible Complexity argument fails to take into account a very elementary concept: fewer moving parts mean fewer points of failure.

It’s representative of a very basic and fundamental flaw in reasoning that a person could look at the human body and think it’s been designed by some being of incredible intelligence outside of space and time as we know it. Had the human body been designed (by a being more intelligent than a high-schooler), we should expect to see the fewest possible parts serving the maximum possible purpose. We should not expect to see vestigial or redundant organs and bone structures or organs that are inferior to other examples in nature that serve the same purpose.

When you then attribute this work to a god who is said to be perfect and all-knowing then you have huge hurdles to overcome. If this god knows everything and doesn’t make mistakes, then why does it appear that the human body has undergone major overhauls and gone “back to the drawing board” several times? The design of the human body certainly doesn’t indicate any kind of special creation over any other animals on the planet as we have much the same structures and mechanisms that every other living being has except some of ours don’t work as well. We’re susceptible to all sorts of diseases and conditions that make our bodies frail and lead to devastating failure. This isn’t the mark of an expert craftsman.

This is a ridiculous argument for IDers to make and I don’t know why they continue to do it. I’m talking to you, Demski and Craig. Quit it!

“You Weren’t There!”

When did “you weren’t there” become a valid argument against something for which there’s ample evidence? Why are religious people still using this worn-out, ridiculous meme to try and disprove the Big Bang, abiogenesis or evolution? Let me break down why I, personally, think it’s (I’m not going to mince words) stupid.

Your Grandparents
You weren’t there when your grandparents were born, yet you accept it as fact because your very existence testifies to the event necessarily occurring at some point. This, of course, isn’t direct and verifiable evidence because all you have is (possibly) a paper trail and word-of-mouth testimony.

Your Parents
You weren’t there when your parents were born, yet you accept it as fact for the same reasons as above. You accept that there’s sufficient evidence to produce a working explanation of your descent through your parents and grandparents and you really don’t feel the need to question it a whole lot. You’d never really consider arguing with your parents about these things, using the “you weren’t there” rebuttal, would you?

What would happen if you found evidence that shook the foundations of your knowledge as to your origin? What if you were adopted or conceived via artificial insemination? In this case you’d be mistaken that your parents are actually your parents. Would you re-evaluate the evidence and adjust your understanding/beliefs to fit the facts as you know them? Would you do more research to understand why you were originally mistaken? It makes sense that you would.

Conclusion
Having used the “you weren’t there” argument against scientific concept x, why are you doggedly arguing for a god’s creation of the universe, or the Great Flood, or the crucifixion or Armageddon? You realize that you weren’t there, right? You further realize that the authors of the Bible weren’t there either, right? How is it that your rebuttal “works” against science but not against your own unfounded beliefs? Seriously, what’s the deal with that?

Since your creation myths and outlandish tales of huge, supernatural miracles that left no trace behind seem so implausible — and you’ve been given massive amounts of evidence to explain how these things have come about (just do a search and see for yourself!) — why would you not re-evaluate your beliefs and adjust accordingly? I’m not saying you have to blindly accept whatever some scientist(s) says, but you can’t declare yourself informed while ignoring everything that contradicts what you believe. And you certainly can’t justify using “you weren’t there” to refute scientific theories that have withstood harsh scrutiny from the global scientific community and a barrage of purposely ignorant fundies.

Educate yourself! Learn something! Open your eyes to facts!

Worst Storm in 100 Years!

A lot of scary language was thrown around leading up to the most recent winter storm. Some said that it was going to be the worst winter storm on record since 1912. While I tried to do as much preparation as I saw fit, I really wasn’t sweating a blizzard of epic proportions. The weather people are rarely balls-on accurate so I usually take these things with a grain of salt. I’m sure someday that’ll bite me in the ass.

As it turns out (so far) there wasn’t too much to it. A definite accumulation of snow but I could dig my car out from under that in no time and be on my way. I hate it when the media gets us all paranoid and scared, just to be proven wrong time after time.

Argument From Distaste

It’s no secret that people aren’t all that fond of Obama. Apparently the people who don’t like Obama extend that distaste to everybody involved with Obama in any way. I find that the most rabid anti-Obama people are often the least logical about their arguments. If you call them out on a point they’re attempting to make, they’ll either shift the goalposts or latch onto some other strange, tangential argument. Here’s an example of a recent Facebook status conversation I had (which is either still in progress or has died due to lack of ability to debate it further):

[My Cousin]
The best news of the day is a Federal court ordered that Obama Care is unconstitutional. Next to the Supreme Court. Apparently it is okay to not be a resident of Chicago and still run for Mayor. Big surprise there. Appellate court kicks the highly unethical potty mouth Rahm Emanuel off the ticket…Big surprise he is back on in 2 days. Great to be a Tsar of the President of the United States.
19 hours ago

  • [My Sister] likes this.
    • Jon Willis
      But he is a resident of Chicago, no different than a student attending school out of state or a soldier serving in another country. I don’t understand the controversy any more than I understand the Obama birth certificate craze.
      10 hours ago

    • [My Cousin]
      It is NOT like an out of state student because their physical address is where they live, and they pay out of state tuition. A soldier’s physical address as I’m told by my business partner, a Army Captain, is where you enlist at. The law which the appellate court of Illinois held up was one must physically live in the city for a year. So, once again Obama and his hence men don’t have to follow the rules the rest of us underclass working Americans do. All men are created equal…..say what? Obama care has been ruled unconstitutional and heading to the Supreme Court. Crossing my fingers. Five were nominated by Republican Presidents and Four by Dems.
      4 hours ago

    • Jon Willis
      Your business partner may have misunderstood how that works. Military personnel (as well as students) have two addresses: a permanent address (typically the place they lived before they left) and a physical address (the place they live now, wherever that may be). They are still considered residents in the place of their permanent address because they are considered to have the intention of returning once their business is done – unless they personally change their permanent address because of their intent to move.


      It would be impossible for any senator, congressman, cabinet member or president to do his/her job while staying put in [wherever they live] so they must relocate. Their permanent address maintains their residency until they return just like a student or a soldier.

      I still don’t understand why this is a problem. Are you upset because you perceive Democrats to be getting special treatment?

      4 hours ago
    • [My Cousin]
      I 100% know that politicians on both sides get special treatment. It is who you know in government that counts. Not what the set laws are. Yes, I think Obama’s Birth certificate should be able to be viewed by any law abiding citizen of the United States. I do believe it is a law. Clinton had no problem publicizing his. So why the secrecy?
      3 hours ago

    • Jon Willis
      I’d like to see that law, if you can find it. A Hawaiian birth certificate is not public record and nobody is required to show their birth certificate to every citizen of the country. Hearing you argue this point now I doubt you’d even accept the birth certificate if it were shown to you. In 2008 Obama’s campaign released a certificate of live birth from Hawaii, which is what Hawaiians use to register for schools and obtain drivers licenses. How is that not good enough?

       

    • [My Cousin]
      ummmm…as President it is a requirement to be born in this country. I believe The constitution states, that the President of the United States of American must be a natural born citizen, The Federalist Papers are very clear on this subject. No foreign powers should have control over our government. Also, the certificate of live birth produced by the Hawaiian government is NOT a birth certificate. Also the govern of Hawaii is a close family friend of Obama. What would you do for your friends? Obama’s father was not a citizen of this country and a Muslim. Obama has never stated his religious affiliation, yet apparently attended Reverend Wright’s church in Chicago which is extremely racist towards whites. Spend sometime in that part of Chicago as a Caucasian in that neighborhood. Then you may change your mind. I believe Reverend Wright has said, God Dam America, Or The chickens have come home to roost. Yah, I have a ton of confidence in a groomed inexperienced President whom the liberal media has shoved down our throats.
      2 hours ago

    • Jon Willis
      You keep changing the argument. Let’s back up and try to address one issue at a time. First, there was the question of residency for Rahm Emanuel. Have we addressed that well enough?

      If so, then next you claimed that it was a law for the President to produce his birth certificate. Can you show me that law?

I just don’t get why some people are so resistant to facts and/or logic. I mean, I’m all for people having their opinions! I just tend to think those opinions ought to be at least somewhat informed by reality instead of personal bias or prejudice.

Oh, You Dirty, Dirty Humans

Genesis 5 is simply a chronology of people getting it on and having babies. Genesis 6:1-8 tells us a very little bit of the back-story leading up to the Great Flood. We’re going to have problems with this story, so let’s dive right in.

Problem 1: Wickedness
So far we’ve learned of two crimes in the history of mankind: disobedience and murder. After the Cain and Abel incident there is no mention of any significant problem with the population of the planet. We can probably assume the humans were doing human-like things and since getting kicked out of the Garden they probably took a few liberties they wouldn’t have before. Nevertheless, god says (out loud to nobody in particular; I suppose he’s just musing), “My Spirit will not contend with man forever…” Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Only evil all the time? Really? If they were having children and raising them, there had to be some love and basic morality. I find this claim to be absolutely stupid. I can’t put it any other way, it’s really just stupid.

There also seems to be a very real lack of specificity as to what these wicked humans were doing, aside from being human. Knowing that these verses lead up to a very drastic act on god’s part, I’d like to know just how horrible you have to be in order to earn that kind of wrath. I get the feeling that this is a lot like a tantrum that a child throws when his sibling is irritating him. It goes something like this:

Child: “Dad! Billy hurt me!”
Dad: “What did Billy do?”
Child: “He hurt me!”
Dad: “Did he hit you?”
Child: “No.”
Dad: “Did he kick you?”
Child: “No.”
Dad: “Did he bite you?”
Child: “No.”
Dad: “What did he do then?”
Child: “He was being mean!”
Dad: “What was he doing?”
Child: “He was being mean to me!”
Dad: “Go away.”

Can you honestly punish Billy for being mean when nobody will tell you what Billy did? Not really. This problem certainly doesn’t undermine the whole story, but it doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in god’s judgment when we notice the trend in his crime-to-punishment ratio so far.

Problem 2: Lifespan
In Genesis 6:3, god muses, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” I find this statement odd because we already learned that man would not live forever when they got kicked out of the Garden. God already knew that man was mortal and he already knew that they weren’t going to live forever. It’s obvious he wasn’t imposing strict limits as to how long man could live but we know they were dying because the Bible tells us that a bunch of people died. So…what’s the problem? And how many people do you know who live to be 120 years old? Not many.

Anyway, prior to this observation humans were living for a gazillion years. OK, not a gazillion but a really long time. Here’s a list of old people:

  • Adam: 930 years
  • Seth: 912 years
  • Enosh: 905 years
  • Kenan: 910 years
  • Mahalalel: 895 years
  • Jared: 962 years
  • Enoch: 365 years (poor guy, god took him early)
  • Methuselah: 969 years
  • Lamech: 777 years

Noah was 500 years old when he started having kids and is said to have lived a total of 950 years. No mention is made post-flood as to how long Noah’s descendants lived. I’m assuming none of them got past 120 years…

Problem 3: Nephilim
Humans were having babies left and right and some of those are coming out female. Apparently the female babies were nice-looking and the “sons of God” took them as wives. They just married any of them they chose! Imagine the audacity! Anyway, these “sons of God” appear to be either angels or the offspring of Seth depending on who you ask. You can read up on it and decide for yourself.

When the “sons of God” had children with the daughters of man, those children were called “Nephilim,” described by the Bible as “heroes of old, men of renown.” They were supposed to be giants who were alive prior to the Great Flood and also afterward (a problem for my next post).

My major problem with the Nephilim is that they seem wholly irrelevant to the story unless god is specifically mad at them. God seems to have major issues with the humans, but this interjection about the “sons of God” mating with human women seems to suggest that it’s these “sons of God” who are the real problem. Perhaps angels were strictly prohibited from having contact with humans, I don’t know. In any case god ought to acknowledge to whom the blame really falls and if the “sons of God” and Nephilim aren’t the issue then I’d really just as soon have them left out of the story. They’re distracting me and my ADHD can’t handle it!

Problem 4: God Admits a Mistake
Genesis 6:6 says, “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” How could a perfect being be grieved that he had done something? He purposely made the humans and knew exactly what was going to happen when he kicked the humans out of the Garden but for some reason he’s surprised at what’s going on? No, I’m sorry, this just doesn’t make sense at all. God showing remorse for his own actions constitutes a mistake, and a perfect being cannot make a mistake. This story’s falling apart.

Problem 5: Over-reaction!
Genesis 6:7 says, “So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.'”

Remember how in the last verse god said he regretted making man? Well, now he’s extending that to every living being on the planet – he’s an equal opportunity regretter. So now the animals are going to suffer because the humans screwed up. Don’t you hate that? It’s like when you lose your recess because that one kid with the B.O. who doesn’t raise his hand yelled out an answer in class! Damn that Stinky McStinkypants! In this story, humans are all Stinky McStinkypantses and the animals are now pissed off that they’re missing recess. Do you still maintain that your god is a just and loving god? I don’t.

Conclusion
What have we learned from this story? That humans were horrible, wicked creatures that all deserved to die with no chance of repentance or vicarious salvation? Well, not really. We never really learned why the humans were so wicked and we’ll learn later on in the Bible (SPOILER ALERT) that god actually does have a plan for redeeming humans without having to destroy them all wholesale.

You want to know what I learned from this story? God flies off the handle at everything! Seriously, it’s like he’s got no self-control whatsoever. Not an attractive quality in an all-powerful deity, wouldn’t you say? So far, the Bible doesn’t have a single story that a level-headed person can read and say, “That makes perfect sense without having to squint or do any kind of mental gymnastics at all!” Not one. Stick around for the Great Flood…