Creationist Wisdom #658: The Wise Student

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and it’s titled Atheism, not Christianity is a myth. The newspaper has a comments section.

Because today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote her by using her full name. Her first name is Annagail. She’s described at the end as “a student.” Excerpts from her letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Philosophy professor Larimore Nicholl’s guest column promoting atheism as the only worldview for intelligent people is interesting but flawed.

Annagail is talking about this: Life from an atheist’s perspective, written by Larimore Nicholl, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Colorado State University. We shall now observe how the student criticizes the professor, with what amounts to a catalog of creationist clunkers. It begins:

He asserts “science is eclipsing religion,” and “modern children and adults” don’t believe in “supernatural myth making.” I don’t know how many children Nicholl has talked to, but most young people I know find purposeful design in the science we study.

Where does Annagail find evidence of “purposeful design”? Let’s read on:

It is more reasonable to believe that an intelligent creator designed the universe rather than the world magically making itself. How illogical to claim the incredibly complex human body randomly evolved from pond scum. Nicholl may be correct that Hinduism, Islam and other religions are inconsistent with science; however, Christianity is not. Christianity is a worldview consistent with observable fact.

We’re not going to spend any time rebutting Annagail’s claims. There are far too many of them, and it really isn’t necessary. She continues:

Nicholl contends that the universe is “natural” and humans were made “by the natural force of genetics.” But if the Earth created you, who created the Earth? Every event that happens is an effect of a cause. The beginning of the universe must have had a cause. However, this thing or person that caused the universe to exist must be independent of the universe, or it could not have created the universe. The fact that there is something (the universe), rather than nothing, points to a creator. Isn’t all matter in the universe springing into existence for no reason an irrational “myth”?

The letter is solid, wall-to-wall assertions like that. Skimming through the next few paragraphs, here’s a bunch of them:

Furthermore, where did the information in the human genetic code come from? …. Information only comes from a mind. The complexity of DNA could not be a result of random-chance evolution, but it does point to the existence of an intelligent designer.

Atheists like Nicholl slam the Bible. However, years of rigorous textual criticism have proven the Bible to be historically reliable. It is internally consistent and collaborative of the writings of ancient historians, making it one of the most reliable collections of historical documents. The New Testament is more well-documented than any other religious or historical text, including the works of Aristotle, a philosopher Nicholl admires. …

History shows that Christianity has been the greatest force for freedom and human rights the world has seen. Christianity has promoted representative government, respect for women, helping the poor, education, medicine, and yes, scientific and technological advancement.

Oh yeah — especially for the 1,000 years before the Age of Enlightenment, when it was the dominant force in Europe. And here’s more:

If atheism is true, it would be acceptable for the strong to kill off the “inferior.” Why wouldn’t Darwinian “survival of the fittest” taking its “natural” course be human progress? … Without God, morality becomes a matter of personal preference. Objective morality cannot exist apart from universal, absolute truths given to us by the creator of the universe.

Great, huh? And now we come to the end:

A Christian worldview explains the origin of the universe, life and morality. It is intellectually honest and consistent with science. As the great Christian scientist Sir Isaac Newton said: “He who really thinks has to believe in God.”

Newton was certainly a believer, albeit an unconventional one, but he must have known of some good thinkers who didn’t believe in God. As for that particular quote, we see it repeated on several websites, but none of them gives a source, so we doubt its authenticity. Even if Newton actually said that, our response to Annagail is this: Maybe so, dear child, but your belief in God doesn’t mean that you know how to think.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #658: The Wise Student

  1. However, years of rigorous textual criticism have proven the Bible to be historically reliable. . . . one of the most reliable collections of historical documents. The New Testament is more well-documented than any other religious or historical text

    The jaw drops. Who on earth has been filling Annagail’s mind with such complete counterfactual claptrap?

  2. Apparently she’s not a student of religion since she claims that “…Hinduism, Islam, and other religions are inconsistent with science” but “Christianity is a worldview consistent with observable fact”. Basically that’s claiming that other people’s sky fairies are myths but my favorite one is real. And the evidence for this claim is …? Then she claims that “…years of rigorous textual criticism have proven the Bible to be historically reliable. It is internally consistent and collaborative of the writings of ancient historians, making it one of the most reliable collections of historical documents”. She’s apparently unaware of the fact that almost all of the “events” depicted in the bible are myths and fabrications. So the question is, of what is she a student? Certainly neither science nor theology.

  3. If the letter serves no other purpose, at least it is a comprehensive list of creationist lies and logical failures.

    It is somewhat surprising that a woman would write that “Christianity has promoted … respect for women,…”, when woman are portrayed as property throughout the bible. Women have been considered unworthy to inherit property, make their own decisions concerning marriage and divorce or even over their own bodies, to practice numerous occupations, or to occupy positions of influence by the Catholic church throughout it’s history, and such attitudes toward women continued in early protestant movements and persist in modern-day evangelicals. Women’s suffrage and other rights attained in recent history have been consistently resisted by christian organizations and churches.

    That women can be indoctrinated to believe that they are respected by the very organizations that most disrespect them is an amazing thing.

  4. She’s certainly not a critical thinker. Unfortunately, in my years of teaching I’ve met a few such students, students who were so steeped in biblical literalism that they could accept no alternative. In their church, the bible ruled, strict obedience was expected, no dissent was tolerated. Psychologically battered, fragile, and depressed described them. Not only did they perform poorly in biology, they performed poorly in most of their courses. Tragic, sad. I’d to think that Nicholl’s letter provoked Annagail to think; perhaps some day she’ll overcome her ignorance. But, perhaps not.

  5. “it really isn’t necessary”
    Especially not for anyone who has read the Nicholl article (it’s short). Annagail is not capable of presenting Nicholl’s views correctly. Keep that in mind and everything she writes refutes itself.

  6. A quick google search of Annagail’s quote shows she abbreviated her quote, but again no source for the quote other than Newton somewhere, maybe. But given Newton’s propensity for religious writings, perhaps he did say it somewhere.

    “He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God.”

    Off topic, but Ham is in the news again!
    Kentucky Noah’s Ark park developer may alter religious worker rules
    http://news.yahoo.com/kentucky-noahs-ark-park-developer-may-alter-religious-002043497.html

  7. michaelfugate

    These people do worship the Bible over any god. Yahweh can’t be pleased.

  8. Nicholl contends that the universe is “natural” and humans were made “by the natural force of genetics.” But if the Earth created you, who created the Earth? Every event that happens is an effect of a cause. The beginning of the universe must have had a cause. However, this thing or person that caused the universe to exist must be independent of the universe, or it could not have created the universe.

    But by that reasoning, someone (or Someone) must have created the Creator, and so on back indefinitely.

    It actually makes more sense to imagine that the universe has always existed, in some form or other. But in an America ruled by creationists, saying so would probably be a felony.

  9. A Christian worldview explains the origin of the universe, life and morality. It is intellectually honest and consistent with science. As the great Christian scientist Sir Isaac Newton said: “He who really thinks has to believe in God.”
    You mean the Newton who cast horoscopes to supplement his income?

    In any case, belief in God doesn’t automatically mean a belief in Genesis-style creation rather than evolution. Creationists only say it does.

  10. In the Christian worldview, replace the word “God” with “universe creating pixies”, and you get the same answer.

  11. To explain something, it takes more than just to say that it happened.
    One can have a true belief about who did it, but still not have any idea about explaining it.
    We know that pre-historic humans painted the cave art, and we even know when and where they did it, and even about the tools and techniques they used, but we don’t know why they did it. We have some guesses, but we are not confident about an explanation.
    Those who say that God did it have no idea of the methods or tools or reasons, even if, like YECs, they think they know when. They cannot claim to have an explanation.

  12. Perhaps she should read the works of Dr. Bart Ehrman, the Biblical scholar who has spent his life studying not only the English translations of the Bible but also learned Greek and Hebrew so that he could work with the oldest manuscripts available. I personally recommend two of his works, Forged, and Misquoting Jesus. He very carefully documents the forgeries, mistakes, misspellings, omissions, and blatant changes that were made in the works especially of the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament. There are also glaring contradictions throughout the Bible, the first two chapters of the very first book contradict each other! It gets better from there.

  13. Hey, if Muslim women can believe Islam’s teachings on women, getting Christian women to think Christianity is great is no sweat at all.

  14. Even more tragically, the Biblical literalist religions are extremely cult like and involve a person’s whole world. She may have no family or friends outside of her cult and no way to even find a place to live or food to eat. It’s not easy to get out of these cults. Check out Jerico Brisance’s blog here on WordPress, or Neuronotes. There are several blogs here that describe what it’s like to leave.

  15. Newton believed in “God” alright, but it had absolutely nothing beyond the name in common with the character in the bible.

  16. Just to comment on what the Bible says about creation in chapter 1 of Genesis.
    1) Many Hebrew scholars say that the first words are not best translated by “in the beginning God created” – rather something like, maybe, “when God began to create” or “in the beginning of God’s creation” or …
    2) The beginning was not from nothing. It started with there being a chaos of a wind over waters.
    3) There is no reference to species (or any other taxon). Living things were created “according to their kind”, whatever that means. There is nothing about the possibility of change.
    4) And, of course, there is nothing about the creation of the majority of life: microbes.
    If the “literalists” want to stick to the Bible, there is a lot that they have to be silent about.

  17. Coincidentally, I was just listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson explain the way in which one of these core assumptions is wrong. She says the universe came from nothing, DeGrass Tyson said actually all the matter in the universe was condensed into a tiny, tiny point. She just consider’s nothing. That’s the problem with a lot of these arguments – people who don’t know what they’re talking starting a line of argument or logic from a fundamentally incorrect assumption. (And I don’t know about astronomy or physics, but that’s the way Tyson worded it).

    Fun addition – Tyson said in an earlier episode (This from “The Inexplicable Universe”, available on Netflix now), that Newton would ascribe what he couldn’t explain to divinity and the hand of god. THAT’S a problem. Just because we can’t explain it now, doesn’t mean we won’t (germ theory, DNA). I like to think real scientists (and atheists) are okay with that, while very, very few people like Annagail (or whatever) actually do.

  18. As far as ascribing to God (or Intelligent Designers) something for which we have no other explanation …
    What is the God/designers explanation? What did they do, what materials and methods, how did things turn out as they did, rather than the uncounted other possibilities that God/designers might do?
    It does no good to postulate an agency which is apt to do anything, if you’re looking for an explanation. If anything is possible, then nothing is excluded. If nothing is excluded, then nothing is explained.