At the end of Part One, found here, J.T. Eberhard tells his audience that the one argument Christians need to address is that there is no evidence for the existence of God (8:00). J.T. then moves into his critique and refutation of the various arguments Christians use when discussing their beliefs. Part Two will examine a few of these critiques and refutations in order to determine if J.T. is actually more rational and consistent in dealing with the issues.
The first warning J.T. gives his audience is to be wary of the red herring fallacy. In short, the red herring fallacy is committed when a person brings forth an irrelevant topic, statement, or position in order to divert attention away from the original argument. The red herring example J.T. gives accuses Christians of saying, “Science can’t explain…what the hell ever…” (8:28). Responding to this red herring, J.T. says, “How do you know science can’t explain something? Science hasn’t explained what the hell ever. And even if we haven’t, that doesn’t mean that you have” (8:38). Following his response, he then accuses Christians of equating their ignorance to God and subsequently worshiping their own ignorance by calling it God. I can’t speak for all Christians, but most of the Christians I know are fully content responding, as J.T. would, by saying “I don’t know.” Not knowing is part of our human limitations of knowledge and understanding. The difference here is that J.T. presupposes atheism is true and precludes supernatural explanations whereas Christians, such as myself, accept supernatural explanations when evidence leads to this conclusion and where natural explanations are less plausible or impossible. It is evident that J.T. exercises the faith of an atheist by assuming natural explanations will eventually account for all of existence and our experiences therein.
Continuing with the subject of science, J.T. takes the opportunity to once again expose his presuppositions and poke fun at a few of the supernatural events recorded in the Bible such as Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, His walking on water, and, what is incorrectly assumed to be a supernatural event, Lot’s wife becoming a pillar of salt (J.T. says, “…the idea that someone could be converted into a pillar of salt,” giving the impression that Lot’s wife was supernaturally converted into a pillar of salt. However, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah accompanied by the halite in the region and a deeper reading of the Hebrew used in Genesis 19 indicate that this was not a supernatural conversion, but rather, a natural death as the result of turning back and lagging behind and subsequently being blanketed in salt from the falling ash and brimstone burning the area) (11:40). J.T. then moves to the global flood recorded in Genesis 7 and tells his audience, “Or how about a global flood that somehow left no evidence?” (12:06). Here, J.T. completely ignores the evidence of a global flood readily available to anyone capable of using Google. While he might not agree with the interpretation of the evidence, it does, nonetheless, exist. He then quips about the Egyptians of the 6th Dynasty who “somehow missed dying” (12:25-12:40) when the flood supposedly took place. This remark ignores the complexities of Egyptian chronologies which are far from conclusive and he simply sides with the dating method and conclusion which fits the storyline of his critique (most likely relying on the traditional chronology using Manetho). An article discussing the chronological dating issues written by Ph.D. student Alden Bass can be found here. The common theme among these objections is J.T.’s presupposition that the supernatural isn’t possible. While the intent of his presentation isn’t about substantiating his own views or showing the impossibility of the supernatural, his critique of supernatural events needs to be understood in the context of his naturalistic worldview.
Remaining on the discussion of science, J.T. references religious scientists and claims they aren’t religious for scientific reasons (12:45). He then takes a moment to attack the intelligent design (ID) movement, referencing one of the major scientific groups in favor of ID, saying, “…like the Discovery Institute, who are trying to publish papers, and they’re trying. ‘Trying’ being the operative word; never succeeded” (12:58). Again, J.T. is either incredibly ignorant of the truth in this case or he is being intellectually dishonest to cater to his audience. In either case, the charge is 100% false. ID-friendly papers have been peer-reviewed and published to the tune of over fifty. Ironically, this information is readily available at the Discovery Institute’s website here.
One of J.T.’s more self-incriminating refutations centers on the argument from Christians regarding the apparent design of the world. To this argument, J.T. asks rhetorically, “And does the universe look designed?”, to which he answers by saying, “Well, no. The universe creates order all by itself which is exactly the universe we would expect to find ourselves in if there was no God” (15:23). Quite humorously, even the aforementioned atheist Richard Dawkins sees the obvious appearance of design in nature. On page one of his book, The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins writes, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” While disagreeing with the idea of a Creator is fine, J.T.’s refusal to recognize the blatantly obvious appearance of design on every level of observation within the natural world is quite revealing. So, what example does J.T. use to refute the idea of a grand designer? A snowflake, of course! Admitting that snowflakes act inevitably according to natural laws (don’t laws require a law-giver?), J.T. compares the process of snowflake formation to DNA replication. Though the design argument will be dealt with in a later article, this conflation between the two of order and complexity arising from natural processes is grossly exaggerated.
Finally, I’d like to focus in on a specific quote of J.T.’s following his snowflake debacle in regards to the universe, historical trends, and what science is discovering. To this issue, he states, “So even for questions we haven’t answered such as, uh, the question, ‘From whence comes the universe?’, we need to look at the historical trend and discover knowledge. And science is not finding God, it’s finding natural causes, even for order and complexity” (16:05). First, science has advanced many answers in regards to the origins of the universe and the overwhelming consensus among cosmologists is that the universe had a beginning in the finite past. Therefore, the universe has a cause outside of itself, and this is apparent not only in scientific circles, but philosophical ones as well (cosmological arguments will be discussed at a later date on this blog). So, while the question hasn’t been answered to the satisfaction of Mr. Eberhard, it most certainly has been addressed and the scientific consensus favors theism. J.T. then appeals to the historical trend of science discovering natural causes while ignoring the possibility of natural laws and uniformity being the product of an intelligent designer, or what Christians refer to as God. Discovering natural causes for how the natural world operates does nothing to dispel the belief that it was created intentionally by God with the ability to be discoverable by mankind. J.T. is simply assuming that nothing exists beyond nature and that natural explanations, even when unavailable, are sufficient. Contrary to his assertion, science is continually discovering evidence pointing to God and natural explanations for complexity, especially in the fields of biology and cosmology, are failing remarkably. Cosmological and Teleological arguments will eventually be discussed on this blog and are supported entirely by scientific and philosophical evidence. Part Three coming soon…