Mountains and Molehills – an open letter to tildeb
This is in response to yur comment – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/random-reality-an-open-letter-to-tildeb/#comment-24634
Thanks again for posting your comments on this blog. You are obviously well-educated as well as insightful and your words have prodded me to study and think which I see as the greatest benefit of your comments.
I am not a scientist and I have not studied biology but I have studied the pursuit of truth. Many people believe that their belief is based on reality when in reality it is not. The problem that these people have is that they have a wrong definition of reality. You have countered and explained that these people do not have a wrong definition of reality when it comes to medical questions or to buying a piece of technological equipment. They only make this mistake when it comes to religion. But these people are not necessarily as hypocritical as they seem to be. There are many pseudo-scientific arguments which they see as supportive of their religious beliefs (e.g. Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.”)
You have countered with the argument, that these people are not willing to subject their beliefs to the criticism and scrutiny that science allows its own theories to be subjected to. These people would respond that they are willing to subject their beliefs to criticism and scrutiny of those who share their understanding of reality.
This blog is an example of that scrutiny. Christians come here and have their beliefs subjected to the scrutiny and criticism of those who share their belief that the Jewish Bible is reality and Jews do the same. The spheres of reality may be different but the struggle to find truth goes through the same motions as it does in the realm of scientific reality. Some people (like Bruce) are completely deaf to the arguments of those who think differently than they do. Others use tactics that do not belong in a discussion about truth without realizing (I hope) that this is what they are doing. These tactics include but are not limited to; mockery, intimidation, reliance on the supposed expertise of one savant or another and nitpicking.
None of these tactics belong in the true pursuit of truth but it is the last one (nitpicking) that is the most difficult to call. Allow me to explain. As I said, the proponents of most world-views have some rationale that supports their world-view. At the same time, there are questions that can be presented against every existing world-view. The general rule is that in the eyes of the proponents of the given world-view, the rationale is a solid mountain that takes up most of the horizon while the questions of their opponents seem to be tiny molehills that are hardly visible at all. It is a matter of a different perspective on reality.
Here too, I don’t believe that people are being foolish or willfully blind. People generally are very comfortable and familiar with the arguments that support their own world-view. Be it because they grew up in a society that repeated and reinforced this argument many times over or perhaps because they have invested much time and effort studying and considering this argument. But they haven’t spent anywhere near the same amount of time considering the arguments of their opponents and in most cases they have no contact with a society that reinforces those conflicting arguments. It is for this reason that the arguments that work for their position seem to be more real to them than the ones that conflict with their world-view.
And it is for this reason that in almost every case, when a proponent of one world-view is confronted with the arguments of the proponents of another world-view, that they see the arguments of their opponents as nitpicking.
I say this, not to defend my argument against your accusation of nitpickery, but to help you see that when people do use that tactic they are not necessarily doing it out of conscious dishonesty. I also wrote this to help you see why your righteous indignation when the proper respect is not given to your world-view may be misplaced and why it doesn’t sound convincing.
Your response to my post contains several fallacies and does not truly address my post and I will explain.
You concluded your post with the statement that you can never have design/creationism without religion. As if the argument for design/creationism is a product of religion.
This is simply false. Throughout history, many people who had the courage to think differently than the prevailing religion still saw the complex functionality of the natural world as evidence to a creator/designer.
Another implied fallacy in your response is your statement that the cdesign proponents haven’t presented any good science upon which to build an alternative theory.
You seem to be implying that in order to discredit evolution one must present an alternative theory. This is not science. Providing a better alternative theory is only one way of discrediting an existing theory but it is not the only way. “We don’t know” is more accurate scientific answer than a theory that doesn’t make sense.
The argument for intelligent design is an argument that is based on the reality that you recognize, hard physical facts. We see a complex world. A world which contains such a high level of complexity that it cannot yet be duplicated by the greatest scientific minds. The atheistic argument is that all of this complexity arose by a series of small incremental accidents. It just so happened to be that on the same planet that the human eye evolved, so did photo-synthesis evolve, as well as echo-location, the liver, and the human brain – all completely independent of each other. The full array of tastes and colors, variety and interaction, that we find in the natural world all happened by accident on the same planet that happens to by accident contain the right balance of oxygen, temperature, water-cycle and wind pattern that make life possible.
Yes, I know that sometimes nature proves to be counterintuitive. But the burden of proof rests fully on the one who proposes this theory of accident.
Now, I am aware that the theory of evolution seems to have solved this problem and I also know that various aspects of the theory of evolution have been established to be true through the process of experimentation and scientific analysis.
But what I pointed out in my previous post is that the critical component of the theory of evolution as it relates to the argument of design – namely the aspect of randomness in the development of life – has never been proven.
The examples I cited were not “nitpicking” simply because I was not presenting evidence against the random element of the theory of evolution. I do not need to present evidence to disprove something that is so counterintuitive. If 150 years of research could not bring evidence to this aspect of the theory why do I need to disprove it? All I was doing with the examples I cited was that I dealt with the possible arguments that you may bring up against my premise.
You have presented arguments against the theory (or religious belief) of creationism. I will not address those arguments yet. Instead I will challenge you. You have asserted that religious people are not willing to put their theories/doctrines to the test of reality. I am willing to engage with you in just such a discussion. We have very different frames of reality so this discussion will be tedious but I believe it will be fruitful.
For the sake of brevity I propose that we limit the discussion to one question on your part and one question on my part at a time. For the sake of honesty I pledge not to consciously use intimidation, the authority of scholars, mockery or nitpickery in this discussion – or any other tactic that distracts from the pursuit of truth.
Here is my question to you. In the entire history of evolutionary research – how many experiments or observations can you put forth in which complexity was randomly added to a living organism – and I am talking about the complexity that is required for the theory of common descent. I believe I addressed the experiment of Richard Lenski with the e-coli bacteria developing the ability to process citrate, the ability of soil bacteria to process different sugars and the hyper-mutations of the B-cell. If you believe that my response to each of these is flawed or inadequate, I respectfully request that you reference the argument instead of appealing to the generalization of “science has addressed this.”
So again – how many experiments and observations can you put forth in which life-building complexity was randomly added to a living organism – and what are those experiments or observations?
In one of your previous comments you asked me a question. You asked if my belief system made any verifiable predictions such as those which can be tested by science. One of the examples I cited was the survival of the Jewish people as an identifiable entity. We can know that this prediction was made more than 2000 years ago and it holds true today. The survival of the Jewish people together with their belief is an important part of my reality. Our beliefs have been ridiculed by the various churches, by the various pagan philosophers and by various manifestations of the study of nature (such as Greek philosophy). The mockers are gone and we are still here. Perhaps this is not an indication of Divine intervention, but it might well be an indication of survival of the fittest – and truth is ultimately the most powerful force in human society.
If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.
Yisroel C. Blumenthal