Friday, January 23, 2009

STA Answers Frank Turek, Part 2

(Read Part 1 first!)

#5 - Logic and Reason Exist
Thus begins Frank Turek's short-list of "evidences" for his God being real. He states the fact that logic and rationality work and cannot be explained by materialism. In a materialistic worldview, Turek suggests, our brains are "just molecules and atoms" and therefore cannot be capable of…creating logic? This part of his argument gets a bit fuzzy for me (perhaps it's because I don't have a God to look up to?). I suppose he's saying that logic and reason are objective, thus there must exist a creator for these, and it's Jesus's daddy.

Again this is the same argument spun anew: "there is law, there must be a law-giver". While direct theism again doesn't follow this argument, a question that can be extrapolated from this is, "why does nature work the way it does?" To me, this question is nonsensical; it's equivalent to asking, why is water wet? Things are the way they are. We don't know why. But when we do find out -- just as we've found out the naturalistic explanations of so much else -- the answer won't be "God did it".

#6 - Mathematics
I'm unsure as to why Turek decided to make this a separate argument from the aforementioned as he's essentially arguing the same point, that is, math exists and can't possibly come from matter alone. This argument contains the same pitfalls of the god-of-the-gaps argument he made before as well as the fallacy of asking "who made it so".

Turek states that "mathematics is the product of mind not matter". However, mind is what the brain (matter) does. It's hard to believe that in this day and age there are people who don't seem to understand that the brain controls the body, and it's where thoughts are stored.

#7 - Human Freedom and the Ability to Make Choices
"If we are just molecules in motion," asks Turek, "how do we have human freedom?" Turek seems to be arguing against determinism here, and proposing in a round-about way the idea of theistic free will.

We are not "just molecules in motion", Frank. We have our own worth because we can say that and understand its implications. However, I will remove subjective worth from the equation and allow the argument to be predicated on the original fact. Sure, we're just a collection of molecules in motion. How then comes choice-making, you ask? You think something like that requires your God? Can you seriously not find a naturalistic mechanism for the ability of the human brain to pick something? I'm quite sure you could if you really cared to look for it, so I'll leave the task in your hands. If you'd like to ponder the philosophical ramifications of determinism, I highly suggest you read Richard Carrier's book, Sense and Goodness without God.

Turek also ties this in with his morality argument, even absurdly blurting, "What is the murder molecule? How much does justice weight? These are questions that can't be answered in a materialistic worldview!" Turek is clearly an imbecile.

#8 - Consciousness
"Why are some carbon-based molecules conscious and others are not?" begins Turek. He appears to be hell-bent on trying to show that we are more than mere chemicals and molecules (which I would agree in a sort of way), and that this is the direct result of an intelligent creator (which I wholeheartedly disagree).

After misinterpreting a sentence from Daniel Dennett's book, Turek merely asserts the proposition he used again and again before: there is consciousness, therefore there must be a consciousness-giver. Again he provides no evidence for making the claim, and again his argument does not follow through to theism. Turek is simply using a god-of-the-gaps argument over and over.

In summation of the above, Turek wrongfully charged Hitchens to explain the following from an atheistic perspective:
  • how the universe arose from nothing
  • how extreme fine-tuning and design arose from chaos
  • how life arose from non-life
  • how morality arose from materials
  • how reason and the laws of logic arose from matter
  • how mind arose from mud
  • how mathematics arose from molecules
  • how human freedom arose from blind, repetitive forces
  • how consciousness arose from chemicals

Although Hitch ignored most of this list (and rightfully so, I feel), Turek seemed to forget the burden of proof rests on his affirmative shoulders -- not Christopher's -- to explain why the answer to all of them must be "God" (and then further, a specific god). He of course offered no such evidence.

Essentially, most of these arguments come down to us non-believers freely admitting that we don't know; we do not yet have an answer. Many of these questions have at least begun to be explained in naturalistic and materialistic terms, some of them are just the wrong question, some are incorrectly based on false pretenses (Turek's use of Thermodynamics' Second Law, for example), and some are the result of Turek not taking the time to research and learn what we do know, or at least the state of science now. It seems that when he discovers a reputable source on a subject, Frank Turek's first instinct is to ridicule and take sentences out of context.

I wrote this response in order to show how those who hold to a theistic worldview must grasp at straws and liberally apply logical fallacies to their arguments for their God, yet none of them can provide the necessary and convincing evidence. The same arguments get used time and again -- these arguments are usually phrased incorrectly, are fallacious, or have already been shown to be unsubstantial. No new arguments can be made, only these incorrect ones. And yet, somehow, these arguments are convincing to theists, even touted as flawless by many. If one fails to see the invalid and dangerous way of thinking that this kind of pseudo-logic delivers, then I fear one is doomed to the mires of ignorance forever.



Big Mike said...

Hmmm, no comments. Either nobody reads your work or nobody wants to argue with you.

STA said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Big Nobody.