I’ve recently run into a Christian named Diana Lesperance. She is the classic evangelical Christian, creationist, and sure that her version of Christian is the only “right” one. She’s written a book “The Narrow Way: biblical and historical proof that God is Great” as a response to Chris Hitchens’s book.
That book must be quite a train wreck. I suppose I could get a copy for a penny on Amazon but then I’d still have to spend $3 getting the silly thing. Luckily, we can see some of Diana’s evidence and logic in her blog and it’s a great demonstration of how a religion needs to rely on fear, ignorance and lies to keep going. Her blog is also a fascinating lesson on how Christians create their religion to fit them.
I’ll address one of her recent blog posts in its entirety but the most interesting points in it is that Diana wants to focus on what evidence we have now and not what we might discover or what we have discovered that she ignores through willful ignorance. This is the only way a creationist, conservative Christian can function, to deny anything and grudgingly move forward as their god is squeezed to nothing in gaps that are ceasing to exist. It is only by saying that we can’t find something out that they cling to what they have left for a little longer. Her post also points out the hypocrisy since we have no evidence of the essential events in her bible and she requires that we accept those claims. She also conveniently forgets that her creationist compatriots have been promising evidence for creationism for decades now and still haven’t produced one bit. The Discovery Institute, the Institute for Creation Research, etc not one dribble of fact that their god created anything.
In her one blog post “The false religion of naturalism”, we can see that it starts out with quite a bang, the good ol’ accusation that atheists are practicing a religion. Naturalism is, well, let’s let the OED say it “the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.” Nothing in it about religion, which is the “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious (“relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity”) attitudes, beliefs, and practices “. In this definition (from merriam Webster), it talks about faith, which is the belief in something without evidence. It also shows that no matter how a theist may claim that their god hates religion and that they have a “relationship”, they indeed have a religion. It always seems that the best argument that theists have is that atheists aren’t any better than they are, not that they are actually correct.
In this, there is no conflict between those who believe in the basis of naturalism and in experimental evidence that indicates that this is how the universe works. Diana, and some of the folks she quotes, do their best to gin up some conflict between the two, and all it boils down to is that humans don’t know everything, so their gods must exist. There is no “war between science and naturalism”.
Diana claims that the following are evidence which supports her claims of war:
- The origin of the universe
- The cosmic fine-tuning
- The origin of life (biological information)
- The sudden origin of the Cambrian phyla
- The habitability/observability correlation
The short version is Diana is depending on the god of the gaps argument, that if we don’t’ know everything, then her god simply must exist. She also depends on ignorance of what she claims. If she was truthful about being concerned about understanding science, she’d already know that her claims fail in basic ways.
In number 1, the evidence we have now supports the conclusion that physical laws can explain the origin of the universe. We may not know all of the details *yet*, but we working towards knowing. Theistic belief depends on the idea that we don’t look any further than what the theist wants us to. We also know that there is no evidence for a supernatural e.g. outside of physical laws and the universe, source for the universe’s creation, especially not for one version of one god of one religion.
There is no evidence for “fine-tuning”, #2. This is the usual creationist nonsense that the universe was built for humans and nothing else. There is evidence that we fit in quite well with a universe that has these physical laws and arose because of them; they did not arise because of us or because of a magical being liked us a lot. Another problem with the “fine-tuning” argument is that much of the earth and the universe is entirely inimical to human life. This is the usual creationist “goldilocks” earth argument that depends on utter ignorance of the cosmos. What we usually get is “golly, the earth is perfect for us, the orbit is perfect, the sun is perfect, etc.” which ignores that people regularly die because of normal physical action on this earth, that the sun is not stable and can really screw up our lives, etc. I mean, really, what kind of a god creates a supposedly perfect world where the primary source of light causes a lot of cancer? (and no, I certainly didn’t come up with that pithy observation).
Number 3 is another attempt at the god of the gaps argument. We do not yet know how life originated, but that doesn’t mean “goddidit”. Nor does this mean that Diana’s version of a god did it. Again, we are getting closer and closer and the gaps are getting smaller and smaller.
The origin of Cambrian phyla, ala the “Cambrian Explosion” trotted out in #4 is another one of those creationist claims that requires a willful ignorance of the subject. It seems that so many creationists seem to think that scientific research into these things stopped with Darwin. Alas for their arguments, it hasn’t. This “explosion” has been noted to have taken from between 5 million to around 40 million years, quite a slow-motion bang. Fossils from the Ediacarian period show evolution, and multicelled critters and evolution just seems to just keep on going. (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC300.html) There is evidence that there was a massive glaciation event that may have killed off most of the Ediacarian critters and then left plenty of niches for others to fill, and fill them they did just like evolutionary theory predicts. And in any case, these fossils show that the creationist claim of man appearing by magic fully formed and woman made from a rib is still hilariously wrong. Of course, even creationists can’t agree on what the bible is “really” saying, and they have no evidence to prove any one of their nonsense hypotheses. Young earthers think old earthers are wrong. We have a bunch of different guesses on what a “day” means in Genesis. It’s like watching fans of Star Trek try to work up excuses for why the series’ stories don’t make much sense in shared universe. (and I am one of those fans)
Now, Diana does mention something called “The habitability/observability correlation” in #5. Now this idea is often claimed by creationists but is Continue reading