Short, but not so simple…

Questions from Avi in bold, answers by SmartLX following each one:

Short and simple answers to these questions, having a hard time to answer, voices tend to question my thoughts into confusion. Please don’t waste time, answer it objectively and simple.
Thank you.

I’d bloody well better do short and simple answers, because some of these questions touch on such huge subjects I could take hours to answer them properly.

– Why is there a large growth of Christians in Philosophy, People like Alvin Platinga, Richard Swinburne, John Lennox, William A. Dembski, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William L. Craig, Tim O’Connor?
There have always been a huge number of Christian apologists, compared to any other type. There are a large number of newly publicised apologists now because there’s money in it. These guys sell books, tickets to seminars and other appearances, subscriptions to their regular publications…and some get huge donations from politicians for tacitly endorsing them.

– Are they stupid and delusional, must we force them out of education?
No Christian is necessarily stupid or clinically delusional. They are simply very likely to be wrong, and whenever this can be established with confidence the incorrect teachings should be kept out of the relevant parts of school curricula, for instance biology.

Is it possible to reduce a mental event into a physical events?
Are they interchangeable?
M=P
P=M

In the naturalistic, materialistic view, a mental effect is a physical effect as the brain is a physical part of the human body, but not all physical effects are mental effects because some of them have nothing to do with the cognitive areas of the brain.

– Can we only define pain as C fibres?
Pain is a signal that travels from parts of the body to the brain, and the reaction that signal creates. C fibres are merely the conduit for the signal.

– Can we as individuals have privileged access to other individuals?
If that’s the way things are arranged, sure. There’s a sci-fi convention coming up in Australia where you can pay through the nose for a small amount of quality time with William Shatner and Richard Dean Anderson. Try getting in for an autograph if you haven’t got a ticket.

– Can reality only be known through the 5 senses?
There are way more than five senses, but anyway, reality may not be known even through the senses. Some idea of reality can only be inferred from the information we receive through our senses, whether we experience things directly or we analyse evidence of past or remote events, but it might all be wrong. We can only amass enough information to reach a certain level of confidence in our opinion of what’s really going on around us. To declare any more surety than that is to delude oneself, which we all commonly do.

– Why is ID allowed in the scientific community in China, why is it free there?
Negligible copyright enforcement has a lot to do with it; English-language books advancing ID and denouncing evolution can be freely translated, copied and sold for a buck, but really I’ve got no evidence that ID is regarded in China’s scientific community any better than in America’s. Some scientists like Professor Paul K. Chien are advocating it there, just like Michael Behe does in the US, but is there any indication that it’s catching on?

– Is it ok to be a Christian? Why are Christians delusional?
As I said, Christians are likely to be wrong in my opinion, and there’s nothing wrong with being wrong except that you have an opportunity to correct yourself. Maybe they were raised with the idea, or they fell for some complicated apologetics, or they had some personal experience which they ascribed to the divine, but every believer has some reason to believe. The question in each case is whether it’s a good reason.

– Do we have to kill Christians in the very end in order to have a free, peaceful and open society?
Even if the existence of Christians absolutely precluded the existence of freedom and peace, killing them wouldn’t be the only answer; they could be persuaded that Christianity is false, for example. So without even discussing whether Christianity is compatible with freedom and peace, the answer to your question is no.

– If nihilism is true in the very end, where did value, and purpose come from? Should we force Christians into nihilism?
We humans place value on things and people ourselves, and we decide what our purpose is. Christians do the same, ultimately, but they attribute their values and perceived purposes to their God long after the fact. There’s no real motivation to force Christians into another philosophy, firstly because it’s almost impossible to change someone’s philosophy by force and secondly because just being Christian isn’t doing the majority of Christians (or everyone else) much harm. It’s the actions of Christians that occasionally do harm, and these should be addressed first.

– Why do I exist, Why am I here, Why do children have value? Why do I love? < Scientific view point
You exist because your parents had sex. There is a line of causality stretching from the fact of your existence to as far back as we can reasonably look into history. The ultimate prime reason for your existence may be the same as everyone else’s, or the line might go back forever. We don’t know. You love because your brain is equipped to form that kind of attachment to other people and living things, and that has a lot to do with why people give children the high value they have in today’s society.

– Do we force our mind into atheism and nihilism?
I certainly didn’t. I didn’t decide to be an atheist at all, I realised I was one already after not seriously thinking about it for more than a decade. You really don’t have to force it.

So, go chew on that lot.

DNA and Intelligent Design

Question from John:
Can you believe in ID and Evolution? If not how can we prove that a undirected process created information and design within DNA? And if it was created by a misguided process does that mean that everything around us is simply a delusion?

Answer by SmartLX:
Many people, including some scientists and even biologists, believe that evolution happened but God or some other “designer” guided important parts of it, the main instance being the development of human beings. This position is known as theistic evolutionism. It’s not normally called “intelligent design” because self-proclaimed ID proponents like those in the Discovery Institute oppose undirected evolution explicitly; their goal is to establish their designer as necessary to the process, not just a possible part of it.

Undirected processes create additional information within DNA all the time through mutation, often under observation. The easiest-to-understand mechanism by which this happens is gene duplication: a small part of a genome is duplicated, changing the instructions it gives the same way an extra “o” changes “hot” to “hoot”. Here’s a video by Don Exodus which goes into more depth; I’m sure you can find many more.

By definition, an undirected process cannot create true design, which implies the existence of a designer. An undirected process can however create the appearance of design if a selection process exists which favours more elegant solutions to physical challenges, and that’s exactly what natural selection does. Even Richard Dawkins often says that living things look designed; this has no bearing on whether they really are.

Everything we sense around us might well be a badly distorted image of what’s really there, or even a complete hallucination, but we are able to test our surroundings and find consistency. When we let go of a ball, it always falls down (unless we’re underwater). When we feel something hot, it hurts us to touch it. We know from smell alone whether someone’s farted in our elevator. The world we see gives every impression of being a real, tangible world, even if we might not be seeing it as it truly is. Nobody said evolution produced perfect results, but it’s given us good enough senses to make some internal sense of the world and survive in it. That’s technically all we need.