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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Do You Want to Convert an Atheist?

If you want to convert an Atheist your task should be simple. Atheists believe in evidence; our opinions are based on it and when the evidence changes, or we discover new evidence, we change our opinions. We have no sacred dogmas which can't be questioned; no tenets of 'faith' to which we must subscribe.

This should make us very easy to convert.

All you need is authenticated, incontrovertible evidence that your god exists and your evidence only needs to pass a few simple tests which, presumably, you believe it's already passed:

  • You will need to explain why your evidence is evidence ONLY for your god and not any other.  Since people have believed in over 3000 different gods in recorded human history, obviously you will need to show why your evidence couldn't be evidence for any of those.
  • You will also need to explain how a god is the ONLY possible explanation for your evidence and why it can't possibly be explained as the result of a natural process.
Now, since, presumably, you were convinced of your god's existence by just such evidence, it shouldn't be too difficult to tell us Atheists where it's to be found and how it meets the above criteria.

In your own time....

(p.s. Opinion isn't evidence and nor is a quote from a book unless the quote refers to authenticated, observable evidence meeting the above criteria).

[Later note] It seems many Creationists are unsure of what constitutes 'evidence' and imagine it includes ignorance and even the opinions of others. The following blogs may help them gain the necessary understanding to be able to use the above method:

http://anotheratheist.tumblr.com/post/4050923890
http://anotheratheist.tumblr.com/post/5524880161

(Thanks to @kaimatai on Twitter for providing these helpful link)

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Ten Questions for Creationists

Creationists insist their theory of creation is at least as good, if not better, than any scientific theory at explaining the observable facts and that it leaves nothing unexplained. In that case it must easily be able to answer the following questions with little difficulty.

1. Creationists insist that nothing can come from nothing and everything must have a cause, and that this implies a creator. They claim this to be a fundamental law with no exceptions.

Holding to this law, out of what was the creator made and who or what caused its creation?

Alternatively, please explain what your god made the universe from if it couldn't have been from nothing, and who or what created this substance and out of what.

Alternatively, please explain the reasoning behind the implicit assumption that non-existence rather than existence is the default state, in other words, why there would be nothing rather than something.

2. Creationists claim information cannot arise spontaneously as this contravenes the second law of thermodynamics, so this implies a designer. A designer with the information needed to create the universe and everything in it must be at least as complex as the universe.

How did this information arise spontaneously in the designer without contravening the second law of thermodynamics?

Alternatively, please explain the difference between information and meaning. For example, the following sequence of letters read by an English speaker has no meaning:

dviratis

Read by someone in Lithuania however, it has a perfectly clear meaning. How was the second law of thermodynamics involved in that change?

3. Creationists claim all species went through a genetic bottle-neck of just two (or seven, according to the version being used) individuals which survived a global flood by living on a boat for a while, 6000 years ago.

How did the genetic diversity we see in most species today, including Homo sapiens, evolve in just 6000 years?

4. Creationists claim a global flood killed all living land animals apart from just two (or seven) survivors which lived on a boat for several months. This flood covered the highest mountains so must have been at least 30,000 feet deep (the height of Mount Everest), at which depth no land plants could survive. Also, very few plants survive immersion in salt water for more than a few days. None of them are montane species (which would have been the only ones in water shallow enough to allow enough sunlight through for them to survive for the duration of the flood). Additionally, according to the Bible, God destroyed all living substances that weren't in the Ark.

What did the herbivores eat when they left the boat?

5. According to creationism, just two (or seven) individuals of each species surviving the flood

What did the carnivorous species eat when they left the boat without exterminating very many of the surviving species in the first few days and weeks?

6. Creationism says all living substance was destroyed during the flood. There is no mention of any plant life, including seeds, being on the ark.

While plants were becoming re-established and diversifying, how would the plant-eating species have stayed alive and bred a large enough population to sustain the carnivores, and what would these plants have evolved from?

7. There are approximately 250,000 different species of plant known today. This would require an average of 40 new species every year, yet in the last 200 years, we have only seen a handful of new plant species evolve.

How could plants have evolved so many different phyla, classes, orders, families and species in just 6000 years?

8. Many species of herbivore, such as the Australian koala and many species of butterfly, are specialised in their feeding habits and only eat a small number of plant species.

What did they eat whilst waiting for their preferred food plant to evolve or how did they evolve their specialised digestive systems so quickly once their food species had evolved?

9. At current known rates of mutation in mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) mathematical models show that all humans share a common female ancestor who lived about 350,000 years ago. (Note, this does not imply the first humans arose from a single individual, only that we all share this common theoretical ancestor). For the observed diversity in mDNA to have arisen in just 6000 years, the rate of mutation in mDNA must have been several orders of magnitude higher in earlier times.

What would have cause this very high rate and what cause it to slow down?

10. There have been approximately 240 human generations in the last 6000 years (assuming a generation time of 25 years). There are approximately 6,700 different recognised languages spoken today, and very many extinct ones. This represents approximately well over 28 entirely new language arising on average every generation and yet we have no records of an entirely new one arising in recent history.

How did these new languages arise spontaneously fully developed in earlier times at a rate at which two or more people could communicate in them?

I would welcome answers from leading exponents of Young Earth Creationism, especially those who earn a living lecturing others and who claim their explanation is better than science at explaining the observable facts.


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