Saturday, February 16, 2013

Today's Liar for Jesus, Thoughts for Young Men

I've recently had a series of online exchanges with a Christian activist whom I hadn't encountered before, the disturbingly-named Thoughts for Young Men.  In our first exchange, I refuted a great many false claims that he was making, to which he responded, in effect, "nuh-uh."  That is, he has yet to provide coherent responses to my refutations.

However, he has begun showing up other places that I've commented and trotting out the exact same refuted claims, dishonestly implying that I have failed to address them.  Accordingly, I thought I would catalog those claims, along with my responses, so that I can simply direct him here rather than rehash the same things every time I see him.

If Thoughts for Young Men is seeing this list, he is welcome to post any responses to the comments section; I would be happy to modify the list if he can support his arguments.

Atheism is a religion.
False.  Atheism is a single belief, that there are no gods.  It lacks any of religion's defining characteristics, including belief in the supernatural, belief in a soul separate from the body, belief in an afterlife, and so on.

Atheism necessitates belief in evolution, or vice versa.
Strawman.  Atheism makes no claim about biology, and evolution makes no claim about any gods.

A variant of the preceding claim is: Someone cannot believe in both evolution and God.
False dichotomy, for the same reason as the preceding claim.

Because atheism makes no claims about morality, atheists have no morals.
Because atheism makes no claims about morality, atheists cannot make moral judgments.
Non sequitur.  Because atheism makes no claims about morality, one can draw no conclusions about a person's views on morality solely on the basis of his or her being an atheist.

Atheists "steal from the Christian worldview."
Unsupported, since no explanation is given for what this means.

The Bible's factual claims are true.
False.  While some of the Bible's claims can be shown to be true (for example, Jerusalem exists), a great many are demonstrably false (for example, the earth is not flat, sitting on a foundation or surrounded by a firmament).  If any given factual claim made in the Bible is true, it could be verified by means other than the Bible.

There is no evidence that there is no God.
Shifting the burden of proof.  Atheism is not the claim that there is no God; it is the conclusion that there is no God, based on an examination of the evidence put forth by those claiming there is one.

The Bible's morality is logical and consistent.
False.  The Bible contains wildly contradictory moral imperatives.  For example, we are to treat others as we wish to be treated, but it is also okay to own another human being as property.

We know the universe has a creator because the universe is a creation.
Assumed conclusion.  Should be pretty self-explanatory.

Believing in evidence requires faith.
False, by definition.  Faith is the belief in something regardless of whether or not evidence supports it.

Evaluation of evidence is entirely subjective.
False.  While there is some subjectivity involved, there are objective considerations in determining whether any information source is credible, reliable and authoritative. 

The scientific process is biased.
True, but not in the sense that is intended.  The process of science is designed to produce objectively-verifiable knowledge, and in fact has an outstanding track record of doing exactly that.  In that sense, it is biased against things that are false or untestable.

Atheists have no basis for believing in logic, because logic is universal, immaterial and unchanging.
False premise and non sequitur.  Logic has developed over history, and even if it hadn't, that doesn't preclude someone from concluding that a god doesn't exist.

Human beings as we know them today were either created by God or happened by chance.
False dichotomy.  Natural selection is not a random process.

Evolution is impossible because one "kind" of animal cannot develop into another "kind."
Presently unsupported, since no definition for "kind" has been given.

I think that about covers it.  If I need to modify the list, I'll do so in the form of new blog posts, so that this one can be referred to.


  1. "Human beings as we know them today were either created by God or happened by chance.
    False dichotomy. Natural selection is not a random process."

    Please elaborate on this specimen of sound-bite philosophy. It seems like a pretty real dichotomy to most people who think about it. On a purely materialistic world view, in order for nature to “select” a trait, the trait has to arise in the first instance by RANDOM mutation. If a fish never has the gift of randomly mutated fins that allow it to crawl out of the pond, nature cannot "select" that trait and eventually give rise to amphibians. If the fish is randomly given, say, a penis when it really needs leg-like fins, no advantage, no evolution. This is apart from the fact that an overwhelming majority of mutations are harmful, many of those that are not harmful are neutral, and many of those that are helpful just don't pass along to the next generation because of recessive genes, or because the amphibi-fish might have simply starved to death upon crawling out of the ooze, before having a chance to mate.

    Also the “selection” of what random mutations are helpful for survival depends largely upon what conditions RANDOMLY happpen to prevail in a particular time and place. If the Earth hadn’t cooled significantly about 65 million years ago, nature would still select giant lizards over small mamals.

    For these reasons, its impossible to describe natural selection as something other than random, without describing it as some type of transcendent, intelligent, creative force.

    On a side note, my research suggests that you were thoroughly punched in the balls on this issue over at the National Catholic Register. You were repeatedly asked to address this issue and refused, then "bowed out" because the thread became "too chaotic."
    Read more:

  2. Actually, I tried to respond to exactly that point, but the website blocked me as spam. If you'll re-read my final post, you'll see that's the reason I stopped commenting.

    So here's my response: You're half-right.

    Mutations themselves occur randomly, but whether or not they survive into successive generations is not random at all. It depends on whether or not the mutation grants some sort of advantage in survival or reproduction. That depends not only on environmental factors (which are not random; natural processes happen in a consistent and fairly-predictable manner) but also on animal behavior (which is also consistent and therefore not random).

    So while the mutations are random, the process of natural selection is not.

    One final point, in reference to "It seems like a pretty real dichotomy to most people who think about it." The opinions of "most people who think about it" are irrelevant, since unless they are trained biologists, they are not qualified to comment on the matter. The opinions I've given above are reflective of the consensus among such experts.

    1. Hi there DVD Bach! Wow, you have your own website!

      Your comments here about natural selection are in contradiction to your view of morality. That is, unless you believe that humans in their present form are the pinnacle of evolution, and no further evolution is possible (but how could you possibly even know that?). Or maybe you believe that humans should only allow further evolution that fits with your subjective view of morality.

      Please clarify.

    2. How so? I don't understand what you're seeing as a contradiction.

    3. On the one hand you describe evolution as occurring by means of natural selection acting on mutations that grant some sort of advantage in survival or reproduction.

      On the other hand, you have elsewhere stated that your view of morality is based on increasing happiness and minimizing suffering.

      So the contradiction I am seeing is this: Do you believe humans in their present form cannot evolve any further? If not, why not? If humans can evolve further, then should we allow that evolution to take place according to natural selection? If yes, that would contradict your view of morality, since the criteria for right and wrong would have changed from happiness and suffering to survival and reproduction. If no, then that means humans are responsible for directing further evolution. Is that what you believe?

    4. Yes, it's pretty much a certainty that humans will continue to evolve through natural selection. However, I don't see why that would change my criteria for morality in the way that you're suggesting.

    5. If humans will continue to evolve, that raises the obvious moral question, "Should humans continue to evolve?" That is, is further evolution morally right, or should it be stopped?

      I don't see how such a question could even be answered in your worldview without abandoning either your view of evolution or your view of morality. Is that why you failed to see the problem? Because it exposes the contradictory nature of your worldview?

    6. How you would "stop" evolution?

  3. Wow, the consensus among experts huh? Would those "experts" be Dawkins, Dawkins, and maybe Dawkins?

    "That depends not only on environmental factors (which are not random; natural processes happen in a consistent and fairly-predictable manner)"

    "Environmental factors" are about as random as you can get. Near Earth collisions, fluctuations in solar output, ocean currents, etc. Not to mention that those factors have to align with a particular mutation in order to select it.

    "but also on animal behavior (which is also consistent and therefore not random)."

    Except that the animals that who are behaving are again the product of random mutations, unless of course you say they are not. Your reasoning is circular. Perhaps you should review your own logical fallacies page.

    Also, you have conveniently failed to address the fact that an overwhelming majority of mutations are harmful, many of those that are not harmful are neutral, and many of those that are helpful just don't pass along to the next generation because of recessive genes, or because the amphibi-fish might have simply starved to death upon crawling out of the ooze, before having a chance to mate.

    See, for example:
    [Your conduct on the aforementioned NCR thread confirms that you either will not read it, or will read only the title, but if you have any readers out there, they deserve better]

  4. If you believe that website has any valid points to make, make them yourself.

    You are just flat-out wrong about randomness in the natural environment and animal behavior. Do you wear a parka in July, because it might randomly snow one day?

    Is it sheer random chance that your pets jump up excitedly every single time you open a can of their food?

    In both cases, no. Because natural processes and animals both behave in consistent ways.

    You should really try testing your claims against reality before you make them.

    I'm afraid I don't see the relevance of your paragraph about harmful mutations; it appears to be consistent with what I've said about natural selection.

  5. Oops, missed your "Dawkins, Dawkins, Dawkins" comment. The answer is no: among ALL biologists. I challenge you to find me one exception.

  6. The fact that you're back here responding so quickly betrays the fact that you haven't given this any real thought. Your entire world view lies shattered at your feet and you're too much of a douche to even pause and take a breath because you're too busy adding specious bullshit to this blog while simultaneously trolling multiple Christian sites picking fights with little old ladies.

  7. If anyone would like to see Thoughts For Young Men squirm, check out this exchange:

    Notice how hazy "objective" morality becomes when it comes right down to it.

    1. I don't remember squirming, but yes, everyone please check it out. I especially like the part where DVD Bach cannot understand that words can have multiple meanings.

      I'm not sure what the "hazy" part is he's talking about. I was very clear. He, however, keep changing his view of morality when presented with examples he didn't like.

      Also check out and

      My favorite part there is where DVD Bach admits he is related to a rat. Well, technically he never admitted that. I think he had crawled back into his hole before then. But he was unable to refute the argument.

    2. Sorry for the confusion; yes, humans are related to rats. Go back far enough, and every animal shared a common ancestor with every other one.

  8. "There you have it, folks..."

    There are no "folks." No one else is reading. This blog is a self-referential, self-congratulatory circle-jerk and you alone will be left eating the cookie.

    "Do you wear a parka in July, because it might randomly snow one day?"

    First, the parka isn't a random mutation, it has a maker and someone intelligently decided to put it in my closet. Also, July is the dead of winter in the southern hemisphere which underscores my position that natural selection is based largely on where and when a mutation happens to pop up. Pretend parkas are a biological feature for moment. If an organism is randomly born with a parka in a warm climate, they overheat and die. The random mutation has to not only pop up (and there is no reason to assume certain traits ever will), it has to pop up at the right place and time in order to be any good. Let's say I'm the first of Darwin's mutated fish that you have on your bumper. I finally hit the random mutation lottery and sprout feet, but I happen to sprout them at a time when the pond is full of water, rather than receeding. The feet only make me swim slower, and I am eaten. There is no reason to expect that this one in ten million occurrence will EVER happen at a time when it actually helps.

    "Is it sheer random chance that your pets jump up excitedly every single time you open a can of their food?"

    This is an example of a single organism's behavior, and doesn't explain how the pet became able to see the can or hear me open it. This is pure neck-bearded non-sequitur that has nothing to do with anything. And to some extent, yes there is randomness there because some owners might open and can but not feed them from it. Perhaps the owner feeds themselves from a can and gives the animal something from a bag. Then the behavior you are taking for granted never occurs. The "trait" (which it really isn't but I'll play along) is wholly dependent upon the whims of a particular time and place.

    "I'm afraid I don't see the relevance of your paragraph about harmful mutations"

    The relevance, butthurt boy, is that the odds of ANY beneficial mutations occurring AND being passed down is astronimically small. So your position that this was the sole mechanism for turning amino acids into Hawkins is a tough one defend.

    Oh, and here's an essay from a PhD philosopher that your "readers" might find helpful:

    "If you kick man in the balls, and he just keeps right on talking, its pretty good evidence that he has no balls."
    - Aristotle

  9. Oh, you're back! Not enough going on over at NCRegister?

    "July is the dead of winter in the southern hemisphere"
    And thus has predictable weather; thank you.

    "natural selection is based largely on where and when a mutation happens to pop up"
    And only survives if it gives a survival or reproductive advantage, which is not random; thank you.

    "This is an example of a single organism's behavior, and doesn't explain how the pet became able to see the can or hear me open it."
    Strawman; I didn't claim that it did. Only that the behavior is predictable. It clearly is, since you knew exactly the behavior I meant; again, thank you.

    "The relevance, butthurt boy, is that the odds of ANY beneficial mutations occurring AND being passed down is astronimically small"
    Which is what makes natural selection such a remarkable process.

    Once again, I have no interest in the websites you're providing. If you believe they made any worthwhile arguments, you'd make them yourself.

    Now, I'm interested in finding out what your position on this issue is. God magically poofed every life form into existence in their present forms? I'm interested in how you defend that.

    But... I'm going to ask you to knock off the ad hominem attacks. I don't want to turn on comment moderation on this blog, because I want it to be a free exchange of ideas. But I'm not going to let someone anonymously insult me.

    So if you have the confidence in your position, let's hear it, and let's hear you justify it. If not, you're done.

    1. The Christian worldview does not say that God created "every life form into existence in their present forms." That was the false belief that led Darwin into evolution.

      The Christian worldview acknowledges that creatures vary. There are a lot of different kinds of dogs. Farmers breed plants and animals together to create "new" and "different" creatures. But they're still the same kind.

      Where is the evidence that one kind of animal has ever changed into another kind of animal?

    2. Sure; I'm happy to answer that, but I'll need a bit of clarification.

      Are you referring to one individual animal transforming into another individual animal? That would be impossible according to everything we know about evolution.

      With that in mind, I'm going to assume your question is about animal populations, not individuals (please correct me if I'm wrong). In order to provide evidence for that, I'll need to know what you mean by "kind of animal." How are you defining that?

  10. I am using the Biblical definition of "kind" which is found in Genesis 1. You can read it there for yourself, but the basic idea is animals that are capable of reproducing with one another (or were at one time capable of reproducing with one another). For example, cats are one "kind", dogs are another "kind", bears are another "kind", etc.

    1. So by "kind," you mean "species," correct? Two animals are of the same species if they can produce offspring that are also able to reproduce.

      So what you're asking about is speciation, the evolution of new species through natural selection. Yes, we know that occurs because it has been observed both in laboratory settings and in controlled experimental conditions in the field.

    2. No, "kind" is different than "species," although similar.

      Let me give an example. Say there is a specific "kind" of fly. Over time, the descendants of that "kind" of fly undergo variations such that some of the descendants can no longer breed and produce offspring with certain other descendants of the original fly (as you mention). The descendants may be classified as two different "species", since they can no longer interbreed, but they are still one "kind."

    3. Okay, so that contradicts your original definition, which stated that animals of a given "kind" can reproduce with one another.

      So again, how you are defining "kind?" Five different verses in Genesis 1 mention "kind," but none define it.

    4. Sorry, maybe my original definition wasn't clear. To clarify it, my qualification in parentheses is not talking about individuals, but populations. I believe my fly example gets the point across.

    5. I'm afraid it does not. Where do you draw the line between one "kind" of animal and another?

      Is it a linguistic distinction? In other words, are things different "kinds" because we have two different English words for them? For example, are fruit flies and house flies the same kind because they share the English word "fly?" Are bears and dogs different kinds because they don't share an English word? Or am I on the wrong track entirely?

  11. DVD Bach,

    What is the evidence that logic has developed over history? I know you're big on evidence, so I'm sure you'll easily be able to supply it. You would never believe something without evidence. Come on, let's see it!

    Regarding your statement "and even if it [logic] hadn't, that doesn't preclude someone from concluding that a god doesn't exist", yes it does. It may take you a while to figure that one out. Please let me know if you need further explanation. :)

  12. Logic

    The systematic study of valid inference. A distinction is drawn between logical validity and truth. Validity merely refers to formal properties of the process of inference. Thus, a conclusion whose value is true may be drawn from an invalid argument, and one whose value is false, from a valid sequence. For example, the argument All professors are brilliant; Smith is a professor, therefore, Smith is brilliant is a valid inference, but the argument All professors are brilliant; Smith is brilliant; therefore, Smith is a professor is an invalid inference, even if Smith is a professor.

    Aristotelian Logic

    In Western thought, systematic logic is considered to have begun with Aristotle's collection of treatises, the Organon [tool]. Aristotle introduced the use of variables: While his contemporaries illustrated principles by the use of examples, Aristotle generalized, as in: All x are y; all y are z; therefore, all x are z. Aristotle posited three laws as basic to all valid thought: the law of identity, A is A; the law of contradiction, A cannot be both A and not A; and the law of the excluded middle, A must be either A or not A.

    Aristotle believed that any logical argument could be reduced to a standard form, known as a syllogism. A syllogism is a sequence of three propositions: two premises and the conclusion. By varying the form of the proposition and the modifiers (such as all, no, and some), a few specific forms may be delimited. Although Aristotle was concerned with problems in modal logic and other minor branches, it is usually agreed that his major contribution in the field of logic was his elaboration of syllogistic logic; indeed, the Aristotelian statement of logic held sway in the Western world for 2,000 years. Nonetheless, various logicians did, during that time, take issue with parts of Aristotle's thought.

    Post-Aristotelian Logic

    One of Aristotle's tacit assumptions was that there is a correspondence linking the structures of reality, the mind, and language (and hence logic). This position came to be known in the Middle Ages as realism. The opposing school of thought, nominalism, is exemplified by William of Occam, a medieval logician, who maintained that the structure of language and logic corresponds only to the structure of the mind, not to that of reality. Since knowledge is a study of generalizations, while nature occurs in myriad single instances, the distinction between the world and our conception of it is stressed by the nominalists.

    Continued below.

  13. Inductive Reasoning

    In the 19th cent. John Stuart Mill noticed the same dichotomy between man's generalizations and nature's instances, but moved toward a different conclusion. Mill held that the scientist or experimenter is not interested in moving from the general to the specific case, which characterizes deductive logic, but is concerned with inductive reasoning, moving from the specific to the general (see induction). For example, the statement The sun will rise tomorrow is not the result of a particular deductive process, but is based on a psychological calculation of general probability based on many specific past experiences. Mill's chief contribution to logic rests on his efforts to formulate rules of inductive logic. Although since the criticisms of David Hume there has been disagreement about the validity of induction, modern logicians have argued that inductive logic does not need justification any more than deductive logic does. The real problem is to establish rules of induction, just as Aristotle established rules of deduction.

    Mathematics and Logic

    With the development of symbolic logic by George Boole and Augustus De Morgan in the 19th cent., logic has been studied in more purely mathematical terms, and mathematical symbols have replaced ordinary language. Reference to external interpretations of the symbols (formulated in ordinary language) was also rejected by the formalist movement of the early 20th cent. Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, in Principia Mathematica (3 vol., 1910–13), attempted to develop logical theory as the basis for mathematics. Pure formal logic attempts to prove that a logical system is dependent only on the perceptual recognition and valid manipulation of symbols and requires no interpretive reference to content.

    Intuitionism, rejecting such formalism, holds that words and formulas have significance only as a reflection of activity in the mind. Thus a theorem has meaning only if it represents a mental construction of a mathematical or logical entity. Kurt Gödel, in the 1930s, brought forth his "incompleteness theorem," which demonstrates that an infinitude of propositions that are underivable from the axioms of a system nevertheless have the value of true within the system. Neither these Gödel Propositions, as they are called, nor their negations are provable. One implication for the modern logician is that Aristotle's law of the excluded middle (either A or not A) is neither so simple nor so self-evident as it once seemed.

    [Source: logic. (2008). In The Columbia Encyclopedia.]

    1. Okay, thanks. Now, how do you know logic is valid? How do you know that "truth" supported by logic is true, while "truth" which is illogical is not true?

    2. Logical conclusions are valid if they can be supported by real-world observation and testing.

    3. When you say "supported by real-world observation and testing", do you mean relating to the premises? Can a logical conclusion be invalid even if the premises are true?

  14. I meant the conclusions. There are any of a number of logical fallacies that would lead to a false conclusion from true premises, including the non sequitur, shifting the burden of proof, the argument from ignorance and the false dichotomy.

    1. Okay, then what does your comment about "real-world observation and testing" mean?

      If all the premises are true, and no logical fallacies are committed, can the conclusion be false?

      Maybe you should start a new post about logic.

  15. Off-hand, I don't see how sound logic proceeding from true premises would result in a false conclusion, but I don't want to rule out the possibility entirely; it could be there are situations that I'm just not seeing. I still believe that any logical conclusions that can't be verified in the real world are worthless in any case.