Category Archives: Intelligent Design

Creationist Wisdom #500: The First Cause

This is what you’ve been waiting for — number 500. It’s hard to believe, but we once considered ending this series with an especially crazy letter — see #167: The Final Climax.

Today’s letter-to the editor is the Buffalo News of Buffalo, New York. It’s titled God must have existed before the Big Bang. There’s a comments section at the end, but there’s only one comment so far — and it’s favorable.

Today’s writer isn’t a politician or a preacher, but he’s sufficiently prominent that we’ll use his full name. He’s described at the end as Zach Krajacic, “vice president at 101.7 FM The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network, based in Williamsville.” Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Though consistent with the Catholic Church’s historic teaching, Pope Francis’ recent affirmation of the plausibility of the Big Bang theory has apparently shocked the world.

It didn’t shock us — see Pope Francis, Evolution, & the Big Bang. Then we’re told:

However, the Big Bang is not incompatible with God, because something would have had to exist prior to the Big Bang taking place, for an explosion could not have happened in a state of “nothing.” This “something” is what we refer to as God.

We’ve seen this before. It goes back to Aristotle’s unmoved mover, and the same argument is part of Thomas Aquinas’ Five Proofs of God. Does Zach have anything new to add? Let’s read on:

The creation of the universe as a byproduct of an explosion would mean that nothing existed before the explosion. But, as will be demonstrated, it is not possible to have a state of nothing (or a state of non-existence), and even if it were possible, a state of nothing could not create something, because there would be no substance or catalyst from which it could be created. This means there must be a supernatural being that was not created but simply exists, and is therefore intertwined with existence itself.

[*Curmudgeon groans*] No one claims that there was literally nothing before the Big Bang — it’s just that we don’t know what it was. Zach sounds like Ray Comfort, the author of Nothing Created Everything: The Scientific Impossibility of Atheistic Evolution.

As we’ve said before, if one begins with the premise that everything has a cause, and then works his way back to God’s being the cause of the universe, the game isn’t over yet. It has just begun. The conclusion that God created the universe isn’t exempt from the premise that brought you to that conclusion. The premise that “everything has a cause” demands that you persevere and seek the cause of God — which leads to the absurdity of an infinite series of earlier gods.

The traditional “solution” is that when one gets to the desired moment in the causal chain, he arbitrarily abandons the suddenly inconvenient premise, leaving him with God as an “uncaused cause” — a conclusion which contradicts the premise. But one can’t arbitrarily stop with some allegedly transcendent thing and assert that it needs no cause. Why? You arrived at that point because everything has a cause. Whether one capriciously abandons the premise at the “right” place in the causal chain, or diligently pursues it to an infinite series of gods — the argument is either self-contradictory or it leads to an absurdity.

There’s nothing wrong with the premise of causality; but it doesn’t support theism’s desired conclusion. Anyway, Zach is on a roll. He continues:

The concept of existence is the key to any discussion about the origin of the universe. Too often the focus of these discussions is on how visible matter came into existence – human beings, animals, planets, stars, sun, moon and so on. The discussion must go much deeper. It must address questions of how existence came to be and whether non-existence (i.e., nothing) is even possible.

This is deep thinking. Deep! Here’s more:

[N]on-existence is not possible. Even if it were possible, a state of nothing would have to be a permanent state, because it is impossible for something to be created from nothing. In order for the creation of anything to have taken place, something must always have existed. This something is God.

Yeah, okay. Moving along:

For this reason the theory of evolution in no way undermines the existence of God. Even if we accept that human beings evolved from monkeys, the next question is: Where did monkeys come from? The answer to that question prompts another question and so on. Each question illustrates the process of cause and effect: something comes into being as the result of something before it. As we continue to proceed through the chain of cause and effect, we eventually reach the atom (the basic building block of all matter) and wonder how the atom came into being.

Ooooooooooh — this is so profound! Then he goes on and on about the need for a prime mover. Skipping that, we come to another excerpt:

This can only mean one thing: A higher power outside of matter must have always existed without having been created. Existence therefore is a state of being that transcends matter and has no beginning and no end. This state of being is what we refer to as God. Aside from God, there is no other way to identify a prime mover that had no need of being created, one who simply exists.

Didn’t he already say that? Oh well, on with the letter:

Since God has always existed, he did not need to be created.

There goes Zach’s whole argument about causality. No, wait — he takes one final stab at it as we arrive at the end:

Yet we can understand how God has always existed from this perspective: Existence has always existed (or alternatively, there is no such thing as non-existence), which can only be explained through the existence of a supernatural being that is completely distinct from matter. This being is known as God. Unlike the world, he has no beginning and no end. He is existence itself.

So there you are. Everything needs a cause — except the First Cause, which somehow requires no cause. It’s all so very clear.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Intellectual Free-Fire Zone for Kitzmas 2014

Let your hearts be glad! Go forth and tell the world that we bring tidings of great joy! Today is Kitzmas. It’s the ninth anniversary of the decision on 20 December 2005 by Judge John E. Jones III in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

This is the day when we eat, drink, and make merry — because we have much to celebrate. Since the Kitzmiller decision, no school board has dared to take the issue of teaching creationism or intelligent design to court. It’s true that a couple of backward states (Louisiana and Tennessee) have enacted the Discovery Institute’s so-called Academic Freedom bills; and we occasionally see some moronic school board talking about teaching “both sides” of what they imagine are scientific controversies, including the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, but ever since Kitzmiller there have been no court cases about that nonsense. School board lawyers tell their clients that if they do something that’s obviously crazy when they’ve been advised against it, their insurance won’t pay their losses when they lose.

There’s even more evidence about the devastating effect of the Kitzmiller decision. Look at look at this history of Google searches on “intelligent design”: Google trends. It’s gone downhill — drastically so — since Judge Jones’ historic decision. Most of the searches that do show up are probably ours.

To increase our merriment, every year around this time the Discoveroids post a bitter diatribe blasting the Kitzmiller decision, Judge Jones, and the witnesses on the winning side. Such posts are usually written by either Casey or Westie. We always look forward to them because they’re great entertainment; but they’ve avoided the subject this year, at least so far.

Therefore, dear reader, we invite you to raise your glasses and join the Curmudgeon in his favorite drinking song:

Roll me ooooo-ver,
In the Doooo-ver …

To one and all we say: Merry Kitzmas!

And don’t forget — this is an Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. You can discuss pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s interesting and done in good taste. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blaspheme; say what you will. But beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Rev. David Rives: Dinosaurs in the Bible

The Drool-o-tron™ is getting a big workout today. We were trying to relax, but its sirens and flashing lights were too demanding to ignore.

The blinking letters of its wall display said WorldNetDaily (WND). Our computer was locked onto WND’s presentation of the latest video by the brilliant and articulate leader of David Rives Ministries.

WND’s headline is Job predicted discovery of South American Titanosaur. Wowie — this bible knew about South America! The rev has his own title for the video, which is Behold Now the Behemoth! Dreadnoughtus the Titanosaur.

But before we discuss the rev’s video, we need to be aware of some scripture. In Job 40, verses 15-18 (King James version, of course) it says:

Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.

What’s that all about? Did the ancients find some old dinosaur bones and try to imagine what it was?

Oh, you should also be aware of verse 23 of Job 40, which the rev doesn’t mention. Still talking about the behemoth, it says:

Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.

Wow — the behemoth can drink the whole Jordan River! And there’s one more thing you need to know. There’s a newly-discovered dinosaur, Dreadnoughtus, the one mentioned in the rev’s title for his video, whose fossil remains were found in Argentina in 2005. Wikipedia says it’s “one of the largest of all known terrestrial vertebrates, possessing the greatest mass of any land animal that can be calculated with reasonable certainty … .”

What does that Argentine creature have in common with the biblical behemoth that could drink the whole Jordan River? The rev says they’re the same! He quotes some of those passages from Job (not the one about the Jordan, which is nowhere near South America), and then he tells us about the fossil from Argentina. He describes the immense size of that creature, and he says that’s what the bible is talking about. It’s amazing!

You don’t want to miss this one. The rev isn’t wearing his bible-boy suit, just a jacket without a tie, but he’s still the cutest rev you’ve ever seen! The video is almost two minutes long — before the commercial. Go ahead, click over to WND and watch it.

As we always do with the rev’s videos, we dedicate the comments section for your use as an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. You know the rules. Okay, the comments are open. Go for it!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Ellis Washington and Pascal’s Wager

Buffoon Award

Once again, the blaring sirens and flashing lights of the Drool-o-tron™ summoned us to the control room, where the blinking letters of its wall display said RenewAmerica. As you know, RenewAmerica is the latest winner of the Curmudgeon’s coveted Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo which adorns this post.

Our computer was locked into this item: On Pascal’s God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, written by Ellis Washington. Our regular readers are familiar with Ellis’ work. The best example of his thinking can be found here, Scripture Trumps Darwin, when he informed us of “the syllogism that was a foundation of Western civilization”:

If A = B, then A + B = C

In all his recent articles at RenewAmerica, Ellis has been rehashing what he finds in the Encyclopedia Britannica Great Books of the Western World. Most of his essay today is taken from that source. He devotes half of it to reciting some biographical information about Blaise Pascal.

Then he spends several more paragraphs telling us about Pascal’s Wager, which is well described in Wikipedia. Almost everyone knows about criticisms of the Wager, many summarized in that same Wikipedia article, which show it to be generally worthless (see Criticism). Although famous and often cited by the unsophisticated as convincing, the Wager is about as persuasive as a child’s jingle. (If you need a digression, your Curmudgeon once wrote about his own fanciful experience with the Wager — see The Devil’s Jockstrap.)

The last few paragraphs are where Ellis becomes entertaining. That’s when he adds his own thoughts. So we’ll skip his high school report on Pascal and focus only on the original material. Here are some excerpts from that, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Pascal famous “wager” argument is not meant to be an irrefutable proof of God’s existence, but a “pragmatic argument” – a challenge to demonstrate it is rational and logical to be a Christian – that theism and rationalism are not mutually exclusive (as viewed in modern times especially since Darwin’s atheist evolution revolution of the 1860s-1900s).

Ah yes, Darwin’s “atheist evolution revolution.” Ellis explains:

Pascal’s wager account [sic] for the fact that if there may be a God, the believer can anticipate an “infinity of happy life,” whereas if God doesn’t exist, the unbeliever has essentially lost nothing, yet lived a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Right. What does Ellis lose if he chooses to believe, but that belief wrong? Well, he loses the use of his brain for a lifetime. If a life based on nonsense doesn’t represent a loss to Ellis, that’s okay with us. Then he changes the subject and says:

Can happiness in this life be found where there is no real choice? Ask the 11 million citizens living under the communist dictatorship of Cuba President Obama is hellbent on propping up. If Pascal lived in these times I’m certain he would ask: Where can happiness be found in a philosophical, political, economic and legal system like progressivism, evolution atheism, communism and socialism established on the cynical lie by Karl Marx?

You didn’t know that Darwin was responsible for Fidel Castro, did you? Now you know, thanks to Ellis. Let’s read on:

Pascal offers another choice, a real choice writing, “Happiness is neither without us nor within us. It is in God, both without us and within us.”

Okay. He concludes with this final bit of wisdom, and the bracketed material is in his essay:

However, the road to truth and thus to happiness is paved with many obstacles that the wise person skillfully avoids. “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehoods so established,” Pascal writes [in the 1600s!], “that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.”

So there you are. It seems that Ellis has chosen to accept Pascal’s advice. Perhaps you will follow his example and do likewise.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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