Sunday, November 12, 2006

Deus ex machina

[Dave Matson] Gathering the animals calls for another round of miracles…Creationist Henry Morris (for years the head of the Institute for Creation Research) imagines that those animals needed for the ark would magically develop an instinct and migrate to the ark…It's all so very simple if you are a creationist! Just invoke a few miracles and forget about the sticky details…Caring for the animals requires yet another basket of miracles.

Invoking miracles to explain how we get from "this to that," adds nothing to human knowledge. Science is an attempt to build on the knowledge we have, to hypothesize and discover connections between things we know. Miracles have no connection except in the supernatural mind of God. They have no explanatory value, they cannot be compared one to another, since each miracle is unique and uniquely inexplicable.

I suppose that if a Designer had wanted people to communicate with greater ease then S/he/it might have installed a port in the side of everyone's cranium through which we could download and upload data with others, i.e., whole lifetimes of learning and experience being shared quickly and easily. Or in lieu of such a physical port perhaps such a Designer might at least allow two people to share their knowledge and experiences in some "psychic" fashion so as to be able to focus sharply and intently on their greatest singular points of agreement.

Notice Babinski’s contradictory treatment of miracles.

On the one hand, he says that miracles have no explanatory value.

He also posted an article by Dave Matson in which Matson attacks the flood account on the grounds that it would take too many miracles to make it feasible.

On the other hand, Babinski also attacks our belief in God on the grounds that if God wanted people to agree with each other, he could have facilitated the process by installing a cranial port to upload or download data from other minds. Or absent that, God could simply create a race of telepathic human beings. Indeed, that he should have done so—if he were real.

Babinski evidently believes that such a miracle (or two) would have explanatory value after all.

So the God of the Bible is incredible because he performs too many miracles.

No, scratch that.

The God of the Bible is incredible because he performs too few miracles.

1 comment:

  1. Steve,
    There is no logical conundrum. The fact that the same person questions or doubts many biblical miracle stories, and also wonders why a truly important miracle that might enhance the ability for human beings to communicate their learning and experiences more properly with one another, is not a logical conundrum, but based on the same reason and logic that led that people to ask rather obvious questions in the first place.

    Going back to the original questions:

    Do you believe that the Noah's ark story is historically true? Have you read Moore's online piece, "The Impossible Voyage of Noah's Ark" that cites the works of a host of creationist Christian ark believers and simply asks rather obvious and logical questions? Woodmorappe attempted to "answer" Moore's question-packed little booklet, then Glenn Morton stepped in and easily batted down Woodmorappe's ad hoc "answers," with a host of additional questions that such "ad hoc" explanations raised. It's all on the web, just google their names and "Impossible Voyage of Noah's Ark."

    I doubt the story of Noah's ark is historical, and also the tower of Babel story, and the creation stories. In fact I doubt the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the "primeval history" section, which easily raises just as many questions than it answers.

    I've also compared the relative arrangement of fossils in the geological record with attempts by "Flood geologist" to explain such relative arrangements, and found their explanations wanting. Woodmorappe, ICR, and Answers in Genesis have all backed down over the years from their original assertions that "out of place" strata, and "out of place fossils," and "out of place artifacts" had been found and proven to exist. They backed down from the Paluxy "man prints," from Baugh's "hammer in stone," and even from "The Lewis Mountain" formation, which ICR's Ph.D. paleontologist, Kurt Wise and it's Ph.D. geologist, Steve Austin, agree is a genuine overthrust and the largest overthrust in the world. So the geological record is not all mixed up. As for Woodmorappe, last I read he's been arguing in typical ad hoc fashion that no "out of place" fossils or human artifacts are likely to ever be found, because (here's the ad hoc part), when the Bible speaks about the earth being full of sin and violence in the days of Noah it only referred to a relatively small portion of the earth, that only 30 or 40 thousand human beings were alive at that time, and they lived in only one small portion of the earth, and God took special care to bury their homes and artifacts and bones where no one will ever find them. Hence, there's no need for "Flood geologists" like Woodmorappe to even have to continue digging and looking for out of place fossils.

    But the huge fact that young-earth "Flood geologists" ignore is the relative arrangement of strata around the world and the relative arrangement of the fossils of each representative geological period in those strata, right down to the relative arrangements of microfossils of single-celled organisms, and small minor bones of organisms, all sorted in ways no single "world wide Flood" of mere water could ever sort so finely and in such an "evolutionary-like" order without a host of countless additional miracles.

    Secondly, about my discussion of how a miracle might better be employed so as to allow people to communicate and share their knowledge, personal experiences and understanding of a subject, you surely must admit that there remain many problems inherent in human communication, and that trying to get people of diverse backgrounds and experiences to learn to think and interpret all of their ideas and experiences in a similar fashion is no small task.

    So, communication is difficult in its own right, let along attempting to communicate about controversial subjects that the vast majority of people haven't sensed (seen or heard) directly, such as the afterlife and spiritual natures, et al.

    In summation THAT was what I was saying in those quotations you cited, but which apparently you didn't understand (as I do), but around which you sought to construct a false dichotomy.


    A few additional quotations, below, that you may construct your next blog reply round:

    Have any of the “religions of the book” noted how quietly the Deity endures the writing of innumerable books all claiming to speak for Him/Her/Them/It? Surely any Deity that thought their exact words were vitally important would have “zapped” every scribe, printing press, or website, that dared to put false ones into the Deity’s mouth. But such “zapping” only appears to have taken place on extremely rare occasions, while new words of the Deity (as well as controversial translations and interpretations of older words) continue to flood the world in a veritable deluge of “God said this, God teaches that-ness.” Could it be that the Deity’s exact words do not matter as much to the Deity as they do to those who believe in “religions of the book?”


    It is not easy to account for an infinite God making people so low in the scale of intellect as to require a revelation. Neither is it easy to perceive why, if a revelation was necessary for all, it was made only to a few.

    Robert Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses

    All that God wants us to do is clearly revealed in the Bible... and the Talmud and the Koran and the Book of Mormon and the works of L. Ron Hubbard. These holy writings tell us what God want us to do, often in the form of revealing anecdotes... The problem is that many of us don’t have the vaguest idea what these anecdotes reveal.

    Dave Barry, “At the Risk of Being Smitten”

    Holy Scripture: A book sent down from heaven. Holy Scripture contains all that a Christian should know and believe provided he adds to it a million or so commentaries.

    Voltaire, Dictionary of Theology

    By the time the Christian churches finalized their New [and Improved] Testament it was 300 years after Jesus had died and they were editing their New Testament right up to the last minute--including three known different endings to the last chapter of Mark, and a few letters that appeared so late that the apostles who allegedly wrote them were already dead. For additional “last minute” changes see, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, and, Misquoting Jesus, both by Bart D. Ehrman

    Edward T. Babinski

    The dogma of the infallibility of the Bible is no more self-evident that is that of the infallibility of the Pope.

    Thomas Henry Huxley, Essays Upon Some Controverted Questions

    Edward T. Babinski