Smack my atheist up

In which Stickwick and I tag-team a pair of godless self-appointed wonderboys. First up, DookerT:

On people like Sam Harris. I don’t know how anyone can really debunk anything he says, you can just make your own subjective moral arguments of why you think he’s wrong and you’re right. As far as the final word goes, it’s in the eye of the beholder. The Christian will generally see people like Vox as being correct and an atheist might generally agree with Harris . There simply are no certainties in this realm of debate, at least in my opinion.

It’s quite easy to debunk much of what he says, as it happens. Sam Harris makes many arguments that are based on objective assertions. They can be, and have been, conclusively debunked by the simple mechanic of showing those assertions to be factually false. There is nothing subjective about it. A very good example can be found in the appendix of On the Existence of Gods.

The ironically named Mr Rational picked the wrong blog to try to dazzle with pseudo-intellectual posturing when he responded to a statement about the Big Bang theory:

You do realize that the current model of cosmology is a creationist theory, do you not?

That statement utterly discredits you.  Creationists may have tried to claim Big Bang/Inflation theory as their own, but it is utterly without theistic implications.  If you are listening to people who claim it does, you are listening to liars.  The left has its own liars telling lies which support its dogmas; if you commit the same errors you are no better than the left.

I am moderately familiar with the theory of inflation (far more than most readers here, I’m certain).  The fluctuations in the temperature of the Cosmic Background Radiation associated with quantum density variations frozen in the cosmic fireball as space expanded too fast for them to reach equilibrium again is predicted by WHAT holy book in WHAT passage, precisely?  If it is fair for Vox to demand a specific list of mutations to turn organism X into organism Y, it is eminently fair for me to demand this specificity in theological claims and pronounce the theology worthless if it fails.

I responded to this myself, by pointing out that a) the Big Bang Theory and expansion were conceived by a Belgian priest, and b) the Big Bang Theory is a necessary, though not sufficient requirement for the Bible to be true, but Stickwick’s response is better. She is, by the way, a very well-regarded astrophysicist with a bibliography of published scientific papers on esoteric cosmological matters that is much longer than my list of publications:

I can’t decide if this is the stupidest thing ever said here or the funniest. Others have done a sufficient job explaining to you why this is wrong, but I’ll add one thing. A few years ago, I was present as a Nobel laureate and one of the greatest living physicists explained to a group of non-scientists that the multiverse hypothesis was developed at least in part because of the theistic implications of the big bang.

You’re doing something very annoying, which is attempting to dazzle people with the details of science instead of addressing the heart of the matter. Unless you’re an expert, this is a bad idea, because not everyone is going to be bowled over by your ability to parrot this information. I’m certainly not, because you’ve failed to realize that inflation is not yet a theory with any predictive power. The recent BICEP2 results that supposedly confirmed it were disproven. Inflation is a nice idea, and one that I think is probably correct, but let’s be honest — so far there is no conclusive evidence supporting it.

In any case, it’s absurd to say that the theistic implications of a theory hinge on whether a holy book mentions one particular unproven detail of the theory. It’s like the idiot biologist I talked to who said Genesis was bogus, because out of the dozens of scientifically-testable statements made by Genesis 1, she could find no mention of bacteria. The theological implications of a theory do not hinge on whether it contains every possible detail of the theories of the natural development of the universe, but on whether it says anything that confirms or denies a central tenet of a religion.

As Vox already explained to you, the big bang confirms the first three words of the Bible. The Bible begins with Genesis 1, because, among other things, it establishes God as the sovereign creator of all things. Without this, the Abrahamic religions are meaningless. If the universe is eternal, that’s obviously a big problem for Christianity. Scientists in the 1950s and 1960s understood this very well, which is (partly) why there was so much initial resistance to the big bang and why physicists continue to try to find loopholes in the theory that imply the universe is de facto eternal.

Now, before any atheist gets his panties in a bunch, I hasten to add that I know perfectly well that neither DookerT nor Mr Rational speak for all atheists nor are representative of the best that they have to offer. There are atheists I like, respect, and even admire.

But I think it would be wise for the average Internet atheist to understand that not only are there Christians who are better-educated and more intelligent than they are, but that there are actually more highly intelligent Christians than there are highly intelligent atheists. According to the GSS, in the United States, there are 11.4x more +2SD theists who either know God exists or believe God exists despite having the occasional doubt than there are +2SD atheists who don’t believe God exists.

And if you don’t understand why that is, you’re really not equipped to even enter the lists here.