Countering Drange: Introduction

I recently found an old printout of Theodore Drange’s 1996 critique of the so-called “Argument From The Bible.” Drange was an early contributor to Internet Infidels, and to this day I still hear atheists occasionally praise him as some sort of competent critic. When I stumbled across the printout, I asked myself why I’d saved it. After reading a few snippets, it all came back to me: I saved it because it’s another shining example of the illogic that passes for rational criticism in atheist circles. So, from time to time I’ll be addressing certain points in this article. First let’s take a look at Drange’s summation of the Argument From the Bible.

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Question #7: No Evidence For A Global Flood?

Though partly tongue-in-cheek and meant to convey a humorous little insight I occasionally chuckle at, there is an element of seriousness behind today’s question. Simply put: if water covers over 70% of Earth’s surface to this day, what are we to make of the skeptic’s demand for “evidence” of a worldwide deluge? I can’t help but return to the humorous proposition implied in Asteroids, Cathode Rays and Requisite Knowledge, wherein a skeptic standing in Tin Bider mocks Aristotle’s hypothetical claim about “huge, flying rocks in space.”

Creationist Values Do Not Lead To Death & Maiming: My Response To Luke & Fyfe

I'm a semi-regular reader of Common Sense Atheism, maintained by Christian-turned-atheist philosophy student, Luke. If you've never checked out Luke's site, I suggest you do. The commentary is usually thoughtful, and the integrity of the debate more than you typically find in the blogosphere. He's got what might be the most thorough collection of William Lane Craig material besides Craig's blog, and also links to over 400 debates between atheists and believers. Luke's blog is a genuine resource to (a)theism. 

What originally turned me on to Luke's style was his sharp dismissal of much of what the New Atheists have to say. Luke ##— like myself — has a very low tolerance for sloppy atheist arguments. He's usually apt to call them when he sees them, too, which is all the better, as I've noticed atheists can be quite fond of towing party lines and refusing to rebuke their own, even when such is clearly called for. The only real negative I'd noticed up until last night was that I've seen Luke threaten to ban commenters (no, not me) for what I'd call nothing more than "disagreeable disagreement." While I don't know that Luke's ever banned anybody, I have absolutely zero tolerance for those who resort to censorship and moderation, and this opinion would not relent even of my own mother. Hence the offensiveness of even the suggestion. 

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False Arguments #23 & #24: The Sufficiency Of Microevolution Tropes

There are two equal but opposite errors I see again and again in ostensibly educated discussions about evolution, and both of them involve ignorance about what scientists mean when they use the words macroevolution and microevolution, (hereafter Ma and Mi, respectively).

The creationist or believer who maintains that Ma is impossible or unproven shows an ignorance of science paralleled only by the atheist or skeptic who maintains that such is untrue because Ma is just cumulative Mi. These are what I call the sufficiency of microevolution tropes, and both of them distort scientific accuracy concerning the facts of evolution.

As genuine thinkers, we need to know what to look out for here, so first let's discuss the terms.

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False Argument #14: Microevolution And Macroevolution Are Creationist Fabrications

I read a comment on a thread the other day that seemed to be making a modified version of a false argument I heard proposed about six months ago in the blogosphere. Unfortunately I couldn't track down the comment, but I do recall the first place I heard its premise:

"First, just so everyone's clear: 'Macro-evolution' and 'micro-evolution' are made-up words concocted by creationists to make themselves sound scientific. Biologists don't use them. They're scientifically meaningless. They're just different stages in the evolutionary process; 'macro' is just 'micro' over a longer period of time. Also, 'macro-evolution' (if people insist on calling it that) has been observed, both in the field and in the lab. Just so we're clear."

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False Argument #2: Genesis Chronology Violates Law Of Photosynthesis

One common but flawed argument against a literal interpretation of Genesis states that the chronology violates biology by listing the creation of seed-bearing plants and vegetation before the creation of the sun. Now if we are taking Genesis literally, this is in fact what Genesis incontrovertibly appears to say; however, the argument proposed to refute this is typically based on a singular claim, namely that seed-bearing plants and vegetation need light and photosynthesis to have arisen. From everything we know from the Enlightenment until now, this also is in fact what science incontrovertibly appears to say; however, what the argument fails to account for is that light is recorded as being present in the creation process much earlier in Genesis 1:3 and concurrent with the creation of seed-bearing plants and vegetation. Thus the rebuttal to this argument is at least twofold: 1) Yes, it is true that seed-bearing plants and vegetation would need light to grow on Earth, however 2) Genesis records that light was in fact present prior to the creation of seed-bearing plants and vegetation.

Note this is not the same as implying the sun was created before the other stars. Scripture simply states that light was present, and we know life needs light to exist, evolve and flourish. Of the many arguments against creationism, this is one of the demonstrably weaker claims.

Inherit The Wind: A Case Study In Intellectual Polarization

It seems to me that America is becoming an increasingly divided country. Ostensibly the land of plenty, many struggle amidst deep socio-political and economic rifts. This division manifests through a series of false intellectual dichotomies: Republican vs. Democrat, scientist vs. religionist, pro-life vs. pro-choice, peace vs. war, activist vs. apathetic, traditional vs. progressive, etc. The situation has deteriorated such that one can’t even mention God in class or utter the name of Darwin in church without somebody getting all up in arms. What might have contributed to this odd social phenomenon?

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The Fossil Record

The fossil record is a term used to refer to the sum total of fossils discovered in the bowels of the Earth.

Earth is composed of rock layers called strata, and the science of studying these layers is called stratigraphy. Usually occurring in layers of sedimentary rock distributed around the world, a fossil is any geological imprint of a once-living life form and the study of fossils is known as paleontology.

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Selman vs. Cobb County

In a controversial decision virtually guaranteed to increase resentment between scientists, educators, fundamentalists and constitutional rights buffs, United States District Court Judge Clarence Cooper ruled against the Cobb County School Board on January 13th that the inclusion of a religiously neutral disclaimer sticker in school science textbooks was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. Prompted by the ACLU, Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education (GCISE) and even former President Jimmy Carter, the lawsuit, filed  by Jeffrey Selman and four other parents, is an ongoing expression of the religio-political battle raging in education, religion, science and civil liberties.

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