Sunday, May 20, 2007

Creationism Evolves: Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution

Today on the show: Intelligent Design.

I'm pulling together some topics I have talked about in the past. For more information, see these pages:


  1. I remember one of those slow days at work when I wandered around Wikipedia and I found the transcripts from the trial, as well as the judge's decision. Its a hoot.

  2. Just finished listening to the episode. Great job as always. Just one thing I’d like to share. You mentioned argument of the watch on the beach again and called it stupid and foolish and a poor argument. I can’t really disagree but I don’t think it’s always put forth intentionally as an intellectually dishonest argument. Not that you meant that, but it might come off that way and I only make the following point because this is a show about conveying atheism to the public.

    For a while not long ago I was still going by ‘agnostic’ as opposed to ‘atheist’ as I do now (though I am currently both). There was still one intellectual hurtle left. That hurtle was something I thought of on my own and was unaware if others had addressed it or not. It was not in any way an apologetic argument to prove a creator, it was simply an intellectual concern I still had. I phrased it as such: If we came across a house in the middle of a field, would it not be more reasonable to assume it had been built rather than that, while not totally impossible, the landscape had eroded in such a way as to form it?

    This was before I studied logical fallacies (and yet after high school, how do you like that?) and it seemed a reasonable argument at the time for remaining agnostic. What’s funny is that it fell apart once I heard the Way of the Masters (which I think I found through you guys) phrase the same argument as a soda can; without even hearing a counter suddenly understood how absurd it was. Of course I then followed up to learn exactly why it was absurd. And so another atheist is created by Christian apologetics.

    The point I wanted to make is that during this period of sorting out those arguments for myself I would have been rather put off by being told that my honest question was not only stupid and foolish but an intellectually dishonest attempt at trickery. It may have even turned me off to the moniker of ‘atheist’. So please, don’t stop calling the ass-hats on this sort of thing and calling it stupid. Just remember that we aren’t always equipped to recognize logical flaws and we can come up with the same frustrating arguments they use completely by accident and some may call in asking not to challenge you but because they simply need to hear the answer.

    I remember an example of this from the tragically canceled Penn Jillette Show where he talked about a woman coming up to him after a show and asked if when he said that all psychics are frauds, did he mean John Edwards (sp?) too. He simple said yes and the woman just said “oh, okay” and seemed satisfied because she wasn’t trying to defend him, she just needed to hear someone say that specifically.

    Sorry, that was much longer than I meant for it to be. Just something to keep in mind. Keep up the good work.

    Oh, and I heart Tracie!

  3. Oh gar....

    My local progressive radio station (mostly AAR, but other folks as well) runs Alan Colmes's show, and he's got NCFSE's Executive Director Eugenie C. Scott on debating with our ol' pal Ken Ham, whose "museum" is apparently opening (at long last) next week.

    Gahh... Mr. Ham is expert in one thing, and that is the Verbal Diarheea method Of Debate -- throwning words and catchphrases and accusations and tangential "arguments" so thick and so fast that one doesn't even have an opening to respond to them, much less keep track of what the heck it was he was saying in the first place.

    I also didn't know that Kenny was an Ozzie. Doesn't mean anything to me other that apparently Ozzies are as good as the Brits (i.e. Christopher Hitchens) at doing "supercilious."

    And so far the callers are as stellar of examples of rationality and intelligence as ol' Kenny-boy. Rant rant rant j'accuse. "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

    (And oh wahhh... Kenny thinks it's "unfair, Unfair I tell you!" to compare creationsism to the church's previous rigid adherence to the Flat Earth Theory. Wahhh......)

  4. Hi Derek:

    You know I always agree with treating people respectfully--regardless of the situation (short of phyiscal assaults, perhaps). I understand what you're saying. And I would probably say that the caller was honest except for his parting shot about the transubstantiation being scientifically proven to turn into actual flesh and blood.

    At that point, I think Matt was right to pull the plug. There just can't be any reasoning with someone who can believe such a claim. The person you describe--someone who asks, honestly, what may seem to be a "stupid" question, is not on the caller's level. There is no talking to a person who isn't willing to even investigate such an outrageous claim. I can't imagine that 30 seconds online wouldn't yeild a wealth of debunking of what that young man was claiming.

    Meanwhile, I will say that I agree that sometimes I feel like hosts/cohosts may come across as having little patience. I think that it's good for any atheist presenting to the public to remember that just because we may have heard fallacy X 1,000 times, doesn't mean the person asking has.

    In fact, there is a good likelihood that they are asking as a positive sign. Maybe, as you point out, they aren't being defensive. Maybe the argument is actually convincing to _them_ and they can't imagine a logical response. In such a case I think a calm, friendly, "Well, here's what I think about that..." answer is a good way to go.

    Thanks for bringing that up. Critiques are a good way for us to recognize, or at least consider, how we come across to the public. I appreciate the feedback.

    And thanks for the love! ;-)


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