Just a Little Common Sense

For a life based on reason, ethics, literature and art.

Posts Tagged ‘skepticism

Debunking Creationist Claims is a Waste of Time

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Debunking creationists is a waste of time unless you do it publicly, on a large forum. This has to do with the Creationist’s intentions and tactics. We need to realize that they are not really interested in changing your mind in particular – they go only for a large number of people. Any people. Any “soul” that is “saved” is a success to them, and numbers is what matters here. This means that most creationists will not engage you seriously, but rather spend their time “saving” five less skeptical people instead of the one die-hard skeptic who has had his heart already hardened by Satan. Understanding this mind-set is crucial, because it makes a huge difference to how one should approach engaging them.

There is a statistical certainty at the heart of all creationist propaganda: The larger the number of people exposed to their ideas, the more will be among the crowd who are susceptible to their lies, ignorance and misrepresentations. If you can stand up and debunk all their arguments, they won’t care. They’ll simply move on to the next person willing to listen.
It has been shown time and time again that creationists tend to simply ignore the debunking of their claims – it is not important to them. As long as they can use a claim to “save” souls, they will continue to use it to do so.

Since their main concern is “saving” people, the arguments and all the pretend-science is only a means to an end. Their actual respect for the argumentative weight of scientific arguments is incredibly low. Hence, they will simply ignore what you have to say. Their mind-set is such that you cannot by scientific arguments change their views, since to them science is only one of many tools to employ to “do the lords work”. They hold it in low regard. So if you try to engage their arguments at their scientific face-value, showing them to be complete rubbish, they will simply laugh at how seriously you take all this science-stuff and how little you know about what (to them) is the real, important truth.

So if you ever engage in a discussion with a creationist, the listeners are what really matters. Your scientific arguments will not convince the creationist, but you might engage the common sense of the audience, inform them enough to vaccinate them against creationist propaganda.

Michael Shermer: The Pattern Behind Self-Deception

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Written by Phil

June 19, 2010 at 01:28

Thank You, Switzerland!

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Harun Yahya, whose real name is Adnan Oktar, is pretty much the Kent Hovind of the muslim world. His book, called the “Atlas of Creation” is an accumulation of pictures – fossils on one page, a living creature of similar shape on the other, and the assertion that life hasn’t changed at all. Therefore of course, Allah is the creator, Muhammad his prophet, and the Quaran his holy word. Two things are interesting about the book: Its enormous production cost (over 700 high-gloss color pages) and free distribution (copies were given to huge numbers of schools and universites) and secondly, the incredible incompetence of its author. Throughout the book, he is mistaking blatant mistakes such as mistaking a snake for an eel and fisihng lure for a fly. Oh yeah, he’s been convicted of various crimes, too.

On May 28th he was scheduled to give a talk at the Kongresshaus in Zürich. He didn’t actually give the talk himself, but just sent one of his minions, which totally doesn’t make a difference because just anyone can give a talk on creationism. There’s only a handful of “arguments” that need to be repeated over and over and over and over again.
The talk was heavily advertised, as can be expected from a ministry that is able to produce an enormous number of high-quality, large format picture books in nine languages and give them away for free. What they didn’t know was that the audience consisted in part of an organized, 70-people flash mob who, after a while just got up and left. You can watch the video of the people leaving here, or the complete lecture (part one of eight) here.

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A Humanist Manifesto

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I just browsed through Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great, intending to look something up for a discussion I’ve recently had with a friend. A paragraph from the first chapter cought my eye, and once again I wasn’t able to put the book down until over an hour later. I really admire Hitchens’ command of the english language; there are few writers so effortlessly eloquent.
There is only one thing to criticize: His misleading use of the word ‘atheist’. Theism is usually defined as the belief in a single God as personal, present and active in the governance and organization of the world and the universe. All that is necessary in order to qualify as an atheist, is not to believe in that. Even if one defines atheism as the positive doctrine that there is no god (there is some controversy about wether atheism describes a lack of belief in existence, or the assertion of the nonexistence of god), the values that Hitchens names are absolutely optional. Atheism is one belief, not a belief system. That is also why ‘atheism’ is written with a lower-case ‘a’, while ‘Theism’ is written with a capital ‘T’. What Hitchens laudates here are essentially the values of Secular Humanism, and are far beyond simple non-belief. Anyhow, it is a beautiful and moving piece of writing, so enjoy: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Phil

May 18, 2010 at 21:15

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