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View Diary: Atheist Digest ’10:  Ben Stein is a Moran:  The Retrospective Improbability Fallacy (64 comments)

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  •  other creationist bunk (10+ / 0-)

    They argue that life evolving into humans is like a tornado hitting a junk pile and building a working 747 jetliner.  This is incredibly misleading, and as with most creationist "arguments" it completely misrepresents what evolution is and how science works.

    •  I'm glad you mentioned that one. I read Dawkins's (7+ / 0-)

      discussion of that one in The God Delusion and thought about mentioning it in the diary.  I'll breifly add to your comments here instead.

      It's difficult to make the argument against that fallacy while avoiding certain words and concepts that creationists will jump on and claim support Intelligent Design.  If I can get enough words in, I'll tell them that the tornado assembling the 747 is more akin to a creator making us and this planet from nothing.  A 747 is a magnificent peice of human engineering, but it certainly isn't the best an omnipotent God could come up with.  The design of a 747 is actually a great metaphor for natural selection, but in this case humans are the mechanism for that selection instead of the environment.  The wright brothers didn't just start out with a jumbo jet.  They barely flew for a few seconds with a rudimentary craft.  What they learned led to the next generation of more stable, reliable, and endurant flight.  Each successive generation saught to improve and solve problems with the design until it evolved from wooden contraption to aluminum giant that can circle the globe in a matter of hours.  Yet this is not the end to our advancement.  The problem in this argument is when the creationist points out that Humans have to "design" the 747.  True, but in nature we have stressors and environmental factors that act as the designer, only allowing successful adaptations to survive to the next generations.  Just as the 747 wouldn't exist if we never learned from and scrapped ideas that literally didn't get off the ground.  

      "Religion allows people by the millions to believe things, that only a crazy person could believe on their own." -Sam Harris

      by XNeeOhCon on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 10:07:43 AM PDT

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      •  I have heard a different formulation of this one (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SciMathGuy, XNeeOhCon

        which compares the Earth to Mount Rushmore; claiming that ID is "self-evident."  My response has always been that I don't see Mount Rushmore-style design when I look at Earth but something more like the Grand Canyon.  Sure it's magnificent (one may even say it's grand), but the processes that formed it are clearly natural.

        Evreything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

        by GreenPA on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 10:16:17 AM PDT

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      •  great addition to what Dawkins and others (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SciMathGuy, XNeeOhCon

        have said about this.  They focused on how evolution is the accrual over time of almost imperceptible changes.  Your thoughts are very helpful on this.

      •  An honest creationist (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tam in CA, SciMathGuy, XNeeOhCon

        Might argue that the fossil record is evidence for creationism, as it (he might argue) shows a creator, or a series of creators, starting from scratch and over time designing a series organisms, abandoning some as unsuitable, and gradually adding improvements to others; and he might suggest that an intermittent series of 'fossil aircraft', starting with the Wright biplane and going on to the Blériot monoplane, the Sopwith Camel, and so forth, eventually arriving at the Boeing 747 and other aircraft of the modern period, would demonstrate the same sort of creativity.

        But there are no honest creationists.  Creationism isn't just about arguing for creation, it's about arguing for the supremacy of a particular religion; and in that religion, it's not allowed that God should spend millions of years experimenting and tinkering with species -- because that would be to imply imperfection.  Therefore no creationist would ever make that argument, even though it could give the concept of creation a veneer of plausibility, or at least keep it from being so totally at odds with the physical evidence of the Earth's past.  (It would still have lots of other unanswerable questions to deal with, but it would not start by failing.)

        Creationism is ultimately not a theory of origins.  It's an attempt to privilege one religion over not just science but over all other religions as well.

      •  The theory of intelligent design (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WIds, SciMathGuy, XNeeOhCon

        Evolved from creationism as a result of selection pressure generated by the legal system disapproving of such an overtly religious outlook being foisted upon public schools.

    •  To which I'd probably reply (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SciMathGuy, XNeeOhCon

      No, it's like a toddler in a room full of legos eventually producing a lego car - because the building blocks are such that a car is one of the things likely to emerge from randomly sticking them together.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 11:21:40 AM PDT

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