Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Listening With New Ears For Atheists Reciting Magical Spells

Since writing the post last Saturday about the enormous amount of magical thinking done by exactly and precisely those folks who hate magical thinking, the scientistic atheists,  I've been discovering I was wrong about only one thing,  they do it ever so much more than I realized at the time.  Since writing that I have listened carefully for them using the phrases and words I mentioned, "natural selection" "probability" or their variants,  "we evolved to" "we are hard wired (by natural selection) to"  when they come to one of the many and sizable gaps in their whole close of allegedly scientific world view.   And they do so, most often, without any evidence, whatsoever, that, if they could work out what actually happened in the course of evolution or through the impossible to calculate probabilities involved, that the results would, in the end, support their use of those terms.

I just got done listening to an informal debate between John Lennox and Margaret Battin, in which he turned her challenge to explain why God created us so as to be prone to depression.  Among the things she said in not answering the question boiled down to "that's the way human beings have evolved."   Which says nothing and there is absolutely no evidence that depression is the product of evolution.  The problem isn't that it is impossible that we "evolved that way" it is that there is absolutely no empirical evidence that we did "evolve that way".

Now, Margaret Battin is billed as a "medical ethics professor" so you would think she would consider the ethical problem of making assertions about science in the total absence of evidence and as someone who, one would hope, had some understanding of science that she would understand the need, if you were going to invoke science, to actually have evidence of a scientific nature to support your contention.  But she has none.  In her argument she is trying to fill a gap in understanding with an evocation of  "evolution" when it is entirely possible that evolution is irrelevant to the existence of depression.  It would be hard to imagine how depression would be an adaptation that would be selected to persist in the long line of evolution, especially as depression can shorten life.  Also relevant to the ability to leave descendants, it is a cause of impotence in men.  I would like to know of any contemporary data that show that people who suffer depression are more prone to having children, which, by the way, would be a different question as to whether people who have children are more prone to depression, the "evidence" on that, most of it in the form of testimony would seem to be quite mixed.   I can find no evidence at all that our ancestors suffered depression in the clinical sense in the distant past.  I remember asking some of my older relatives who had lived through the poverty during the depression and world wars, if they had ever suffered depression and the ones who give me any answer said they were too busy to get depressed.   Maybe depression is a modern illness.  How long can it reliably be traced back even during the historical period in a way that is not prone to self-serving interpretation?   I wouldn't be surprised if something like what we call "depression" wasn't there but the identification of mental illnesses and disorders is hardly a hard science, as the appearance and disappearance of them from the official SCIENTIFIC catalog of mental disorders demonstrates.

But listen for the use of those magic spells as used by atheists and other supposed non-magical thinkers because once your ears are listening for it, it's amazing how much of it there is.   I do a lot of my listening to such stuff while I'm planting seeds in flats and transplanting in the spring so I'll probably be reporting on more of it as I find it.


  1. Don't you know "evolution" explains everything, even when it doesn't?

    And of course the problem is not the theory of evolution per se, it's the buckshot use of it to cover up any bit of inconvenience that's laying around. I think that's my pet peeve: people who know nothing about other topics (such as the complexity of human consciousness) and simply reduce it to a reductio of "evolution did that" or, "it's all just neuro-chemical electrical discharges" or some such absurdity.

    In the right context it could be mocked as "Male Answer Syndrome," the male instinct to answer a question on any topic even if you don't know a single thing about the topic. Maybe it should be treated that way anyway, especially where the correct answer is: "Hell if I know."

  2. Once I realized that whenever they get stuck at a gap in knowledge, they just say "natural selection" as if that made it disappear. It's the Pops-a-Dent of materialist discourse. Only those dents are more like chasms.

    And there are several other magic charms I've noticed that are used the same way. "Probability" or "random" are two of them.

    I think it's something like "founding fathers" in right-wing discourse.