Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – probability, evolution and theists

In a prior post, I went over how many Christians attack evolutionary theory without either knowing what it actually is, or willfully ignoring what it actually is.  I pointed out that many Christians, including the pastor who wrote these things, try to make false claims about its supposed randomness, which he, and they, think is such a great and wonderful attack on the theory that they benefit from every day.

The pastor posted two posts on his blog, in an evident hope to support his claims.   Let’s see how he does.

To begin with, he tries to excuse his claims by saying that the average person uses the terms accident or chance.  That may the case; it’s still wrong, and creationists use these terms intentionally to try to cast doubt on evolutionary theory.  The pastor just parrots what they say and these creationists certainly do their best to hide behind science when they want, witness the attempts by the Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, etc. when they try to claim how ever-so scientific they are, insisting that any second now, they’ll have actual evidence for their myths.  It’s been decades since they’ve made that claim and still no evidence.

There is no evidence that the universe came about by accident or chance.  Indeed, the evidence points to the laws physics being quite enough for it to come into being and they may be just as “eternal” as theists claim their gods are.

The pastor displays his ignorance about other religions when he repeats his failed claim that “people saw this world as being the by-product of the wars and love affairs of gods”.   Some religions do indeed see this as true, and quite a few make the same claim that the pastor does “Creation reveals God and leaves us without excuse.”   None of them can support this, and putting the words in bold doesn’t make it any truer and no better than the claim of an imam or a guru or a Wiccan priestess.   He also claims that the gods of other religions didn’t mean to make the universe and humans.  That is incorrect too and that ignorance would have been cured by a very quick internet search. For example, Ahura Mazda was an uncreated being that intentionally created humans as a good thing.   Jainism believes that the universe has always existed, no creator needed.  Egyptian myth has Ptah creating the universe with a “word” and speaking humans into existence or Neith wove everything in the universe intentionally on her loom.  When one cherry picks myths, one gets a wrong answer that all religions have what Christians often seem to be trying to make as a set of “primitive” beliefs.  In other religions, there are indeed purposeful creation of human beings.  The pastor’s claim that humans are only a “by product” in other religions is wrong.

It doesn’t seem that creationism and the pastor’s version are getting off to a good start.  His idea that humans *must* be created by a god intentionally doesn’t make his religion unique nor does it support the common Christian claim that humans have to be created to be worth something.  Per his religion, we must worship his god because his god created us to do so.  That no evidence can be shown to support this claim, there is no need of worship (and paying preachers) at all.

The pastor claims that there can’t be reason or purpose for his existence without his god.  I do feel sorry for people who feel like that since that makes them afraid, very afraid and very dangerous to people who dare to point out that they can be wrong.   When one’s entire self-worth is based on being right about a god that has no evidence for it, it can make for desperation.  I would posit that this desperation is why a lot of young men and women kill themselves (and others) for Islam.  They have nothing else that tells them that they are worth something.

Happily, humans can have many things that make life worth living, which gives a reason and a purpose: family, friends, pets, justice, art, etc.  The pastor, like so many ignorant Christians, wants to claim that having no god means nihilism.  They have to make that false claim since they have to be able to give a reason why someone must agree with them in order to get that external validation.  They must play on fear.

Things still aren’t looking good for this Christian version.  The pastor’s quotes from Dawkins are a little strange. They do show that evolution is not based on randomness as creationists would claim. They are all from Climbing Mount Improbable and the main gist of this book is that evolution isn’t improbable like theists may claim since it does things slowly, makes many mistakes, and doesn’t always work or get the best answer to a problem.   We can see that if we take one of the bits and look at it in context.

“We have arrived back at Mount Improbable, back to “smearing out” the luck: to taking what looks like an immense amount of luck – the luck needed to make an eye where previously no eye, say – and explaining it by splitting it up into lots of little pieces of luck, each one added cumulatively to what has gone before. WE have now seen how this actually works, by means of the accumulation of lot of little pieces of ancestral luck in the DNA that survives. Alongside the minority of genetically well-endowed individuals who survived, there were large numbers of less favored individuals who perished. Every generation has its Darwinian failures but every individual is descended only from previous generations’ successful minorities.”

The pastor claims that there are three problems.

  • That the defenders of evolution have not allowed for the use of everyday language to sum up a point or to describe the perception that arises out of their theory.
  • That a lot of people don’t really know how things like chance and probability work.
  • That whilst it would be reductionist to think of evolution purely in terms of random/blind chance, it would be similarly reductionist to ignore the element of chance present in evolutionary theory as well.

It is not that the “defenders of evolution” haven’t allowed for the use of everyday language, it is that we aren’t interested in the false claims of creationists being spread by their ignorance of the subject they attack.  It is true that many people don’t know how probability works and that includes creationist. I’ve found this website that does a good job at simply explaining probability. And yes, we know that the pastor is using “accident” and “random” as attacks against evolutionary theory since the creationist’s only argument is that the universe must be designed and must be intentional.   Creationists try to use the ignorance of others about chance and probability to make their false statements.  The last point is a strawman since no one has said that no chance at all is in involved.  The only ones who have tried to imply that evolution depends entirely on chance are the creationists since, again, they must draw a distinction between their divine design and everything else.  Varying probabilities are involved and one can see that from the quote from Dawkins above.

(as an aside, probabilities are something that a lot of folks don’t understand. The probability of life on earth is 1 (certain) since we are most definitely here.   We don’t know exactly how things started, and we may never know, but we know it happened. The evidence may be long gone since the surface of the earth is constantly being remade.

So, for abiogenesis we don’t know exactly how it started, but we know the laws of physics and chemistry so we can do the experiments to get ideas on how it may have worked. We may, at some point, succeed in making life, but even then we may not have come upon the exact way it happened on earth because there could be more than one way for abiogenesis to occur.

Now, we have plenty of evidence that evolution has occurred. We have evidence that there are physical laws and they don’t change randomly.   We have physicists that propose theories and we have the experiments and observations that these theories are accurate descriptions of how the universe behaves. This makes for a high probability that they are correct.

And then we have the claims about various gods, including the Christian one. We have no evidence that any gods exist. We have no evidence that they somehow influence the universe. We have no evidence that any god created the universe.   We do have evidence that prayers do not work as advertised. With these facts, there is no reason to assign a high probability to the claim that this god exists.)

It’s rather fun to watch creationists now try to walk back their false claims about evolution.  This has happened again and again since evolutionary theory was mentioned.  By dribs and drabs, creationists have accepted the pieces of evolutionary theory that they could not reject without looking completely idiotic.  Oh well, the bible was literal….. until it became metaphor.   There was no evolution….until some creationists decided that that there was “microevolution” but golly, no macroevolution.   And now we have Christians who say that the bible has nothing to do with describing the world as it is, but not it’s only a guide for morality and spirituality (which it fails at too).

Now, the pastor wants to claim that we are “really” talking about probability.  And indeed, we have been all along.  In this universe, we know that everything isn’t random and chaotic, which is exactly what evolutionary theory says and how the world works.  However, when a theist claims a miracle,  and that the events of the bible really did happen, then they are claiming that yes, “anything can happen”,  that people can fly against the laws of physics, that a whale can swallow a man, that the dead can be made alive again, the universe is random and chaotic.  However, they don’t live their lives this way.   They claim that they have a god that is the “unknown known” that makes miracles happen, but they have no evidence for the actor nor the miracles themselves; they inject the deus ex machina which they cannot show exists or that it is even probable.    Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – probability, evolution and theists”


Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – claims, evidence and research when debating a literalist Christian

Here on WordPress, you can search for blog posts on a certain subject by using keywords. As a blogger, you can set keywords yourself (you can see them at the bottom of this post) and I also think that the system also finds them to be able to bring back search results. I have a search set up to bring up posts that reference atheists and atheism. Most of these are from atheists, but about a third of them are by theists, usually Christians. Of these, in my experience about 90% of them do their best to try to convert atheists and to disparage them, often repeating false claims, making baseless claims without evidence and making some very poor arguments. The internet is certainly full of such nonsense, from conspiracy theorists, holocaust deniers, xenophobic twits, etc.

Since I do not like to allow such things to remain unaddressed, and don’t have an infinite amount of time, I occasionally pick one and ask questions about their post. In some cases, there are no comments allowed, so I ask questions through mail form. Sometimes I get a response, sometimes I don’t.  One of the other respondents is here, where again Pascal’s Wager is being touted.

Those readers who have been with me awhile may want to find other things to read since some of this may be repetitive for them. The bit below isn’t as biting as my writings usually are since I was behaving.

I recently found a post on a Christian pastor’s website that can be distilled down to: Richard Dawkins should believe in my god because there he says that there is a probability that this god exists and any possibility should be taken. Most will recognize this as a variant as Pascal’s Wager. I asked him this question about his assertion: “If your argument is valid (that Dawkins should worship a god since he says that there is a small probability of one), why do you not believe in other gods and live your life as if they aren’t there?”

We started off having a pleasant discussion, with him complimenting the question but it quickly turned south when he declared that nothing would change his mind and that he was not going to participate anymore, that how dare I explain what a circular argument is to someone who has taken years to get a philosophy degree, accusations that I was attempting to humiliate him, that I didn’t respect his religion, and told me that he wished me good luck because, as an atheist, I’d need it. Unfortunately, this is how more than a few of these interactions go; rather than answers, I get threats.

I informed him that I was going to use my correspondence to him as a basis for a blog post and asked if he would allow me to post his side of the correspondence to make sure everyone could see his side. I wasn’t too surprised that he refused, despite no reason given. So, I will use what I wrote in reply to address the general arguments that have been offered by various Christians in the past here and on the . No need to let research and writing go to waste.

Argument 1: I believe in only one god and the others don’t exist. I know that this is true because their claims are contradictory. The claims of other religions are untrue because there is no evidence to support them. I know this as a certainty; there is no probability of another god. It’s illogical not to believe in my god because there is a low possibility of it existing.    

The problem with this claim is that it needs evidence to support the claim that the theist’s god exists and no others do. The bible is offered as evidence, but what most theists don’t acknowledge is that the bible is the claim, not the evidence. The bible makes the claim that the god exists and the events therein are true; it cannot be used as evidence for the very claims it makes.   Dawkins, in the discussion of his seven point scale, admits that there may be some low probability of a god when he scores himself at 6.9, but there is the same probability for the existence of fairies. We can’t be absolutely sure that *some* god doesn’t exist. In that the theist’s argument depends on this probability, their claim that they know a certainty about other gods doesn’t work. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – claims, evidence and research when debating a literalist Christian”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – more inept lies and intentional deceit from TrueChristians™ , Natural Disaster edition

(note to my readers: if you followed this blog for food and travel, you may want to skip this post.  It is my unvarnished views on politics and religion)

I believe in contesting the lies of bullies and cowards at every turn. Susan Stamper Brown is a conservative Christian opinion writer. In that, we can expect her to be as deceitful as possible in her writings and her attempts to have her very own “facts”. In her recent opinion piece “Global Warning Alarmist Need to Lose the Arrogance”, she has tried to claim that one shouldn’t assign blame to humanity for natural disasters and complains when comedians point out that the theists, who have repeatedly threatened anyone who didn’t do as they wanted, suffer from these disasters too.  She whines about how dare they make natural disasters “leftwing attack dogs”.   (she also is a coward on Facebook, inventing her own echo chamber, but she can be reached at as per the link above)

Now, how many times have we heard threats about natural disasters from TrueChristians™?

Many Christians have made these threats often, with a local example of how Pat Robertson claiming that Dover, PA would have “problems” after removing creationism from its schools: “God is tolerant and loving, but we can’t keep sticking our finger in his eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.”  

Pat also claimed that the Haiti earthquake in 2010 was a result of this god of his getting rather late revenge on Haitians since they rebelled against slavery. Jerry Falwell is famous for claiming that the 9/11 attacks were the fault of people not obeying his god, and once called on it apologized for his false claims. Since he said similar things after this, his apology was not something to take seriously. Franklin Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham, claimed that Hurricane Katrina was punishment. The American Family Association claimed that Hurricane Isaac was punishment.

Of course, the best in irony is that Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT group, had his house flooded in a hurricane after claiming that natural disasters were punishment for non-Christians. He claimed that natural disasters were “God is trying to send us a message.” When he was agreeing with Jonathan Cahn who claimed that Hurricane Joaquin would hit Washington DC. Let’s see what exactly was said (transcript from Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – more inept lies and intentional deceit from TrueChristians™ , Natural Disaster edition”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – No, many conservatives really are this ignorant

I haven’t had a Pennsylvania politician post for a while.  But oh this one deserves it in spades.  Scott Wagner, a Republican (what else?) state representative from the district to the south of me, has said the following about climate change:

I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth. We’re moving closer to the sun.” [WITF-FM, Harrisburg, 3/28/17]

And not satisfied with this, he also said:

“We have more people…you know, humans have warm bodies. So, is heat coming off?”

No, despite the date, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

Keystone Progress is looking to send this pathetically ignorant man to school to learn the basics about reality.   Hmmm, I wonder if I still have college books for astronomy, meteorology, geology, etc. If so, someone’s getting a package!  Indeed this man is a great example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, as is that clown Trump.

This is why everyone who can should attend the March for Science, write your legislators, and always *always* counter the ignorance and outright lies of those who would try to ignore science in favor of their ignorant ideology.  No one has the right to take away the ability of people to make an informed decision.

This stupidity makes the kitty angry. 

What the Boss likes – or what she thinks is mildly interesting

sick smilyArrgh, I have a cold. What tedious misery. The following is pretty much stream of consciousness nattering. Treat it as you will.

Apple Pie moonshine from Old Republic Distillery is very good mixed about half and half with boiling water and with a bit of hot buttered rum “batter” aka equal parts of butter and brown sugar and cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to your taste all mixed together.

Pat Robertson is making more prophecies,, when all of the others have failed: failed prophecies. Now, when will the TrueChristians demand he be stoned to death as their god supposedly requires?

Odd Squad on PBS is great. The humor is far more sophisticated than I would have guessed for a children’s show, much more of the absurd situational humor and word play similar to what you would see on a movie like Airplane! Yep, this because I was stuck watching daytime tv suffering with my cold.

I thought I’d tell a silly story from my youth thanks to Mr. Merveilleux showing us some pics of handsome fellows in the military. Back when I was young, the song Age of Aquarius was on the radio. I really liked it (was really into astrology) and got the album it was on with money I got for a birthday. Yes indeed, I got the album of the musical “Hair” when I was hmmm, probably somewhere in the 8-10 age range. Now, I was often singing all of the songs at the top of my lungs in my room. And if you know the album, some of the songs are a tad “interesting” for a little girl to be singing. I have no idea if my parents just didn’t hear me, didn’t want to deal with me or didn’t know what the words I was singing actually meant (I did eventually look up those words and found out why some of those words were “so nasty”…). Now, add to this that I never saw the musical until maybe five years ago, and had no idea what visuals were going with the songs. I watched it with my husband who found it hilarious to see my reactions to what I had been singing with such vigor in my youth. White boys and black boys are so pretty indeed 🙂

Ah, see what trouble you can get into being far too precocious in reading but not quite so precocious in comprehension…

Well, that’s it for today. I need some more cold medicine. It’s a sign when it took me a good three tries to type medicine correctly…