Thursday, 12 July 2007

Anderson is at it again - this time he is as "Finely Tuned" as a nine bob note

My local fundamentalist pastor has been at it again over at this pro ID/Creationist blog. At least this time he hasn't chosen to base his whole post on a logical fallacy as he did last time. But as we shall see he does seem to attract logical fallacies like sh%$ attracts flies.

Lets see what he has to say and inject a little reality into his ramblings.

First off he accuses his opponents of misdeeds with his trademark "complete lack of supporting evidence" ploy;
Here again, materialist apologists are misrepresenting what's being said - and missing the point.
Such unsupported assertions only need pointing out - there is no evidence here to actually refute after all.
Within what bounds is life possible?
Remember this bit folks, because it doesn't happen very often. He has actually started off in the right direction for once, but lets see how long his foray into the real world lasts. Note that the key word here is "life", not "carbon based life", not "carbon based DNA using life" and certainly not "human beings" or even "us".

This is absolutely the key point to grasp in this argument. A clear understanding here is crucial to helping us spot the nasty little trick he is trying to pull. Lets put that another way by setting up a rather crude but effective analogy to help us follow him as he ducks and dives through the arguments; What are the odds of winning the lottery? 13 million plus to one against. But hang on, despite these formidable odds someone does win the lottery every single day somewhere in the world, often at even longer odds than those quoted in larger lotteries than ours here in the UK. What does such a rash of hugely unlikely events prove about the existence of god?

"Nothing!", you say, and you would be correct.

Well now, let's look at this question from an individual lottery winners' point of view. The odds of this particular person winning are breathtakingly small and yet they have actually won. From Anderson's point of view this is clear evidence his particular god exists.

"It must be part of a plan!", he gasps.

Lets go back to his posting and explore more of his twisting and turning.
What are the ranges of values that various physical constants must exist within for us to exist?
The crucial thing here is for us to spot that he has subtly switched from talking about "life" existing, to specifically talking about specifically us here existing on this specific planet now. He has switched from asking how often people win the lottery to making assertions about how unlikely it is for a particular named person to have won the lottery last week. Cleverly subtle and deceptive stuff.

Anderson subtly is out classed by just how wrong he is. He has led us into a basic mistake that high school maths teachers might choose to challenge their students with if they felt like it for a bit of a laugh on a slack day. Is he really daft enough not to be aware of what he is doing, or does he just run rough shod over reality to suit his own fundamentalist need to support his view that everything in the Bible must be true. A 6,000 year old earth, dinosaurs on the Ark and everything else.

So now you can see that whilst he can go to town all he likes with his coin-tossing-and-"what-are-the-odds?", -by-golly-it-must-be-God type arguments, his sleight of hand this week has been perpetrated right there at the beginning of his own argument. Mention life in general but then switch to us, specifically us, he he he, they will never notice, I imagine him chuckling like Dick Dastardly in the Whacky Racers at this point.

Perhaps we can better picture him as being more like a particularly crooked street trader. He has already safely palmed the only Queen and so his polished theatrical performance of "find the lady" is designed to steal our money with no risk of loss at all to him, he has rigged the game and just needs some "marks" or converts.

The key part of this whole discussion, which he has rather conveniently (and dishonestly) neglected to mention is the bit about how many different forms of life might be possible. In the context of our lottery analysis this is the equivalent of him neglecting to ask how many winning tickets are drawn over what period of time. A winner every week is the answer for the lottery analogy. The other key question he ignores is that of how many people are playing the lottery. Or back in the real world, the question of just how many universes there are out there where life might or might not have formed.

Just to be inconsistent Anderson does briefly use the generalisation "life" again in his argument, but he contradicts himself in such a way that we can tell that he specifically means "us" in this next bit;
The interesting calculation is to look at how narrow the boundaries are for the various conditions that make life possible.
I suppose this is the equivalent of the card sharp using sleight of hand to briefly show us the queen card again before carefully palming it once more safely out of our reach.

Now Anderson should really know what he is talking about when it comes to maths you know. After all he does have a degree in it. Although sometimes he forgets this and instead claims it is a "science" degree just because it suits him, but that is another story.

Next we see another example of what is turning out to be his hallmark; he blatantly manages to contradict or disprove himself in the very same article he makes his original point in;
Because we are here, therefore we know that the right conditions for us to be here must exist, therefore the discovery that those conditions do in fact exist proves nothing.
Finally he attempts to sneak this little gem in under the radar;
On the other hand, if scientists discover that the range within which life is possible is extremely small, then this is positive evidence for intelligent design.
What evidence has he offered to support this possibility?

Nothing, nada, zilch, zero, diddly squat.

In fact he has studiously avoided discussing any aspect of this fascinating question at all. Why? So he can stick to his fundamentalist fairy tale, and not get himself tangled up with inconvenient little things like the the real universe, that's why.

Once again he has shown the logically bankrupt nature of his own position.

- - -

Till next weeks steaming pile of manure.

PS the man himself as checked this blog out six times since his recent post, six times in 24 hours - perhaps he is keen to see where he went wrong?

Enjoy David.

1 comment:

  1. Based on David's logic, we're lucky we evolved here, because if we'd evolved on Pluto we'd all be dead. We've evolved here as a consequence of what he calls "fine tuning", not as an independent but co-incident and unlikely event. That was Douglas Adam's point about the puddle. David's post confuses cause and effect.