Wednesday, February 25, 2015

... on Genesis and Evolution among Myths and Deconstructing a Piece of Rhetoric

For the following video, the main thrust goes to Kent Hovind and his partner, not to me. But two of the things their opponents said (right at the beginning) merit a little more attention than I expect them to give it (I haven't heard all the video yet):

Debate #3: Genesis - History or Myth?
Kent Hovind OFFICIAL

19:33 Genesis is just one of many kinds of creation stories? Well, goes for evolution too.

If we look at content, it is actually evolution which is closer to Pagan stories and Genesis that stands out, together with Plato. Plato = Plato in his dialogue Timaeus.

Abiogenesis? Well, in Greek myth you have Chaos producing Gaia, Ether, Nyx and Erebos. In Nordic myth you have Fire and Ice meeting over Ginnungagap, and producing the cow Audhumbla licking a salty stone and the hermaproditic giant Ymer.

Major change over time, from worse to better, from uglier to nobler? Well, apparently Gaia could produce pretty monstruous offspring, even her sons with Uranus, the Titans, were pretty bad, and then a Titan couple produces the first gods. In Nordic myth you have Ymer's grandchildren getting somewhere near good, like giving a wife to:

  • Bure - the man Audhumbla licked from the stone
  • Bor - his son
  • perhaps Odin as well, though Fricco could be a cousin through an unmentioned brother to Bor (who would then also be [the husband of] a giantess)

And like producing Ymer's grandchildren Bergelmer and his wife, who were spared. Sure, spared in a Flood - Nordic Myth is less away from Genesis in that respect. So is Greek, though Flood has another place in it.

But Flood like special creation of man are events, the other aspects are aspects of metaphysics. A New Age atheist might squeeze in World Wide Flood (though not many would) and might squeeze in a special creation of man by ancient astronauts, but neither of them would be a divine event like in Genesis, even if there were a match of storyline detail.

28:56 "I recommend that we hold off, until we get some education in biology, to evaluate some of the things being made up here today, I think it is very hard for you or I to make sense of these complicated themes about vestigial organs ..."

If we take the words at face value, it is a recommendation.

As such it could be topped by an equal recommendation to get some education in biology (as in what is going on observedly right now in fauna, flora and bodily functions of man) before we evaluate these complicated themes with geological column, radioactive dating, fossils, tree of life, abiogenesis, tiktaalik, australopithecus afarensis, horses developing from smaller animals, birds evolving from dinos via archaeopteryx, all that - except for those of us who decide with a view to a higher and more sure discipline, theology. For the others, taking time to evaluate claims of mind being or not being a biological, chemical, physical brain function vs. a substance other than physics might also be a good idea.

But I said it was a recommendation taken at the face value. Perhaps it may be taken, perhaps it was even meant as an intimidation, as a "trust the scientists on where they seem right, and if they seem wrong, leave that to the scientists to sort out those more complicated themes". If that is anything like the real meaning of his words, well, in that case they are very antiscientific.

They are basically the words a Catholic under normal circumstances (like not after Vatican II, but before) would take to the consensus of Catholic bishops under the papacy, under the successive Popes one has lived under or has historic knowledge of. As an Irishman, if I detect the accent right, the speaker would perhaps know that attitude. And there is justification for it, like not running after every Protestant who has it figured out what cult Jeremiah meant with "queen of heaven"* ... when it comes to science, we are not dealing with the eternal salvation and damnation and hence are not obliged to be all that cautious. Moreoever, the collective of scientists has not the promises that St Peter and the Apostles and through them Popes and Bishops had from Christ, so we are perhaps less well advised to just trust scientists.

* The Puritans had it figured out wrongly, by the way. God may have hated Ishtar as "queen of heaven" among Canaaneans precisely because she is such an opposite to the real Queen of Heaven, the Blessed Virgin, His Blessed Mother and Handmaid.

30:11 "or even if it was demonstrably true, that I could prove it to you"

What a little snake tongue!

Demonstrable truth is precisely what one should believe for. He tries to deny that because "truth is too heavy" - no, it's not.

30:20 Ah, he doesn't need proof for accepting what textbooks say in biology? Or is he meaning he does not need the textbooks just to claim they have proof? Once again, his words can be taken two ways.

30:26 "that's a logical term, better left to the logicians" (legicians?)

Every sane man is a logician when it comes to truth.

30:33 "what we are talking about here is confirming a theory"

OK, but confirming means gathering a lot of evidence which is at least half proving it and definitely nowhere infirming it. And infirming a theory means disproving it or proving its opposite. Which brings us back to logic and truth. Nice try to camouflage the logic you use under "confirming a theory" while attacking the logic someone else uses as "truth is too heavy a word" and such and such a theme being too complex. Nice try, but not with me.

31:02 "even an account like Genesis could explain everything" (all the natural processes you will observe in your life)

Fine admission.

31:13 "we have very limited access to the universe, we haven't seen it all"

OK, means there might be things in it we have not observed. Not that the things we have observed are not in it.

[Nor, though I missed pointing it out, that our explanations would have to cover the kind of things we have no experience of at all.]

31:37 "if you are going to admit microevolution, I think you'll have to admit macro"

I am waiting for a nice little refutation of that from the other team. For one thing, there might be a barrier, like mammalian chromosome numbers. For another, macro implies a need for very long periods of time and there is no proof of that time, maybe even some against it.

Mammalian chromosome numbers:
Creation vs. Evolution : Letter to Nature on Karyotype Evolution in Mammals

Creation vs. Evolution : Telocentric Chromosomes of Rhinoceros, check ... Rock Wallaby, check ...

Lack of proof for "geologic column":
Creation vs. Evolution : Three Meanings of Chronological Labels

No "distant starlight problem" for a young universe:
Triviū, Quadriviū, 7 cætera : Distant Starlight Problem - Answered by Geocentrism
and a few more.

31:42 "maybe you should believe it because the vast majority of informed reasonable professional people do"

No, since that is unverifiable. Vaster or slenderer majority is unverifiable within certain limits of statistics done and decided. How many of those are in that respect informed and reasonable and how many are only doing what he is recommending non-biologists to do, relying on "vast majority of informed reasonable professionals" is unverifiable too. How many of them need it in their professions is unverifiable too. At least for the work they are doing.

How many has it been made a social necessity for?

How many linguists have a diploma after saying in class "I don't think Proto-Indo-European was spoken 6000 years ago, back then it was before the Flood and everyone spoke Hebrew"? It is an intelligent position, historically, theologically. But not an excellent way to make a carreer.

From that view point, these words of his are also a kind of intimidation.

32:52 "because all the scientific boards and all the people we trust to cure our diseases"

Meaning you can not get through Med School unless you are a Neodarwinist?

How horrible, if true.

But I don't think it is, and I am certain a few decades ago it wasn't. I am even more certain, it is no use for a doctor. Nor is Heliocentrism, as Sherlock Holmes (modelled on a doctor) told Dr Watson.

"and to inquire into the natural world"

What if I trust CMI or Sungenis to do that?

By the way, after exposing "maybe you should believe it because the vast majority of informed reasonable professional people do" for a minute or two, masterly, he does an even more masterly move : he ditches the argument. He has been intimidating and trying to be impressive and he ditches that to the relief of hearers. BUT when he ditches it, he gives a Parthian Arrow to the other team, since not admitting it was an "argumentum baculinum" but reclassifying it as an "argumentum ex auctoritate". And his last argument, he thinks when we decide we will agree with him, that sounds like an induction script from a hypnotist.

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