So, there I was roaming about YouTube to watch videos, when I finally bit the bullet and watched one of the awful pieces authored, directed and played by an alarmingly ridiculous man named Shawn Karon. People might more readily recognise him as VenomFangX. Let’s be honest, he’s been done to death. Dprjones, Thunderf00t and even Aronra have taken stabs at him in the past. But, I thought it might be nice to try my hand.
Unpacking Kent Hovind’s Arguments And The Creationist That Took Up His Flag
The series that I will focus on, probably over the next few days, is a sample of six videos from him collectively entitled, “Satan Invented Evolution”. Expecting to come across some insane argument I hadn’t heard before, I was forced to slap myself in incredulity. The first video was, almost word-for-word, lifted from another completely bonkers creationist we all know and love. Namely, Kent Hovind.
And that, friends, was the deciding factor for me. That there are still people who can buy into Hovind’s nonsensical arguments and, not only that, but parrot them back as if they carried some credibility. It’s time to lay them to rest.
I’ll throw each video at the end of the article as usual as I tackle them.
The Four Great Questions
Shawn begins with a verbatim representation of Kent Hovind’s argument. He presents four questions that, while having some degree of philosophical significance, aren’t really scientific questions. In a remarkable display of ignorance and, I’ll argue, malice, he throws a strawman argument our way by presenting the “humanist” (what he means is “atheist” or “evolutionist”; creationists tend to think the three words are interchangable) position.
The position he provides is entirely lacking in substance and he, obviously, easily dismisses it. The problem is, however, that the position he presents on behalf of the atheists is entirely lacking the subtle nuance which is generally present. There is no one unifying view to these questions among atheists. We a lot of us share a common love for science, though I won’t claim that it’s Universal. We all have differing opinions on political and, to some degree, spiritual matters. To conclude that his argument holds any weight is to admit to a personal absurdity of thought.
“Who am I? (What am I worth)?”
And so, with the first question, he sneaks a second one in. It might have been better to title it “the five great questions” and treat the “what am I worth” part seperately, given both questions are rather large and encompassing.
“Well, if evolution is true, you’re nothing important. You’re just a bunch of protoplasm that washed up on the beach and you’re not worth a thing.”
While it’s not unreasonable to believe that there are some atheists who think in this particular line, the statement is lacking the substance and nuance deserved when dealing with the wide diversity represented in any large, disparate, demographic. Ultimately, it commits the same wrongness of thought as does any racist, sexist or homophobic statement. Just because a person doesn’t accept the proposition “a god exists”, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they all think the same.
From my own position (given that it’s the only one I have to work with), I generally think that the “worth” of people is a complicated matter. People, in my mind, are worth whatever they feel that they’re worth. It’s not for me to decide the value of another human being, they’re perfectly capable of doing that themselves. In my own case (again, because it’s the only one that I have to personally work with), I generally feel that I am worth more than the Christian God does.
How is that possible? For one, I don’t think I deserve to be tortured forever. Which is the crux of this particular point. Whether they admit to it or not, creationists honestly believe that there is a large portion of the population deserving of eternal torment, all because their god says so. How is that adequately valuing another person? Try it to justify it, if even as an experiment, in your head. “I really respect you and believe in your ultimate worth as a human being created in God’s image, but you’re going to burn forever for thinking differently.”
That’s not value. It’s obscene.
“In fact, since you are a polluter of the environment, the more of you we can get rid of the better.”
I know that we normally try to keep Jacmus rather PG, but screw you. This blatantly false accusation, when coming from the mouth of someone whose beliefs have, at times, promoted the systematic slaughter or enslavement of anyone different, is entirely insulting. To level a finger in that manner and accuse the atheist of being so callous is simply an appeal to emotion. Ultimately, the veracity of the claim is unaffected by such a silly argument.
Science—the very thing he’s arguing against in the video—is the only way to overcome the pollution issue. Kill more people? No. Hard work and research into alternate technologies for the production of energy, food and whatever else is the only answer.
“Where did I come from?”
Aside from the obvious “evolutionist” answer—namely, from your parents—he seems to be fishing for some metaphysical answer. As Alex mentioned in one of his recent articles, if it can be described in nature then it is not supernatural—it is not metaphysical—it is simply a part of nature we don’t yet understand.
Regardless, though, why should there be any more significant answer than this? Would you like one? Well, also from the “evolutionist” position, you might consider yourself to be the ultimate expression of a pure line of success. You exist because your parents won in the game of survival of the fittest. More than that, because their parents, and their parents before them, all the way back to some organism which doesn’t resemble you anymore than an amoeba does today (although, genetically speaking, the amoeba is probably closer related to you). Everyone, every creature, which preceded you in the tree of life was a winner. You come from winning.
“If evolution is true, you’re just the result of a cosmic burp twenty billion years ago by sheer accident.”
I can’t begin to point out what’s wrong with this particular sentence. I might start with the fact that the theory of evolution by natural selection has absolutely nothing to say on the genesis of the Universe. But, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times this is mentioned, the creationist seems to think that it’s perfectly rational to lump the allelic variations of organisms with the origins of time, space and matter. Unfortunately, it makes no sense to anyone who has functioning mental faculties.
I’d further like to know where he gets his numbers from (actually, I do, eighteen to twenty billion years is the range that Kent Hovind often gives) when a simple Google search tells me that the Universe is, roughly 13.77 billion years old. Or, after a quick trip to Wikipedia, 13.798± 0.037 x 109 years old. That’s a margin of error for the calculations of about 4%.
And then sheer accident. What sheer accident is he talking about? We have no (or at least, very little) idea as to how the early Universe worked, particularly at the point of singularity “before” the Big Bang. The fact that, according to quantum mechanics, particles can pop in and out of existence at random seems to imply that the particular line of reasoning he’s following is ultimately flawed. Things happen, observably, that appear to have no external cause, what-so-ever. In fact, in certain situations, we rely on this randomness.
“Why am I here?”
Another question, ultimately, begging the question. It assumes the conclusion as the premise, although not outright.
“If evolution is true…” I’m serious. He starts every diatribe with these four words. “You’re not here for a reason, you’re actually here because there is no reason. And if it feels good, you might as well do it because you’re going to die one day. So, if you want to go murder anyone you want or rob a bank or, you know, just make life miserable for everyone… By all means! I mean, hey, there’s no meaning to life right?”
Uh. No. Just no. I’m not sure how anyone can think that little description of the “evolutionist’s” position is tenable. In the real world where people other than me exist, I am forced, by social convetion and the basic programming evolution has done to my brain, to coexist with those other people. For the most of us, this means that not killing people at random is generally a good idea.
Further, I recognise the fact that I am a social creature. My life is dependant, at least in part, on the other people around me. I couldn’t grow food to save me or hunt and catch prey, so farmers provide me with all of the food I require. I’m not a doctor, so when I get sick I need to find one. Ultimately, there are a lot of good reasons to suppose that doing these things is a good way to make your own life miserable.
Not to mention the fact that, in the real world, there are real world consequences for, more-or-less, being a complete bastard. If you go around murdering and raping and robbing banks you are going to find yourself in a terrible position. The implication, of course, is that there are a lot of people out there who would be admittedly horrible if they were to ever realise that their god doesn’t exist (although, I don’t tend to think so—Matt Dillahunty was almost a priest, and he seems to be, for the most part, a completely compassionate and reasonable individual). The fact that he implies that this is what people are like, naturally, undermines his earlier attempt to offer ultimate valuation for people. Apparently, people aren’t worth a great deal in the creationist view—we’re all raping murderers only held in check by God.
“Where am I going when I die?”
“If evolution is true you’re going to be recycled into an earthworm or a plant.”
You’re an idiot.
In The Creationist’s View
And then he goes on to quote the Bible and offer his own insight into it. All I have to say to that is that his Bible holds about as much authority, from the view of those who don’t believe it, as does any other work of fiction. I don’t go reading through the Silmarillion in search for great morals or worth as a human being, even though I generally believe that it offers a far more poetic approach to meaning than the Bible does. When I die, I’m going to Valinor.
And in response to the nonsense, arm-throwing, little display of ignorance (“evolution comes from the Bible, Satan said some things, blah!”), we’ll tackle it this way. He’s trying to convince us of his correctness by quoting a portion of the Bible in which a snake convinces a woman to betray her creator. The convincing part of the argument, of course, is the promise of becoming “like God”. But, wait a moment…
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the LORD God sent him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” – Genesis 3:22-23
What did the serpent say?
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1-5
Huh. Fancy that. Both God and the serpent, in regards to “godhood” said exactly the same thing. Not to mention that Adam lived to the ripe old age of 930. He surely didn’t die.
And, as far as life on other planets go… See Neil deGrasse Tyson.
I think I’ll leave this bit off here. His next remarks amount to little more than strawmen and wacky interpretations of evolution which no sane person would believe. We didn’t evolve from modern single-celled organisms, you nutjob.
The Age of the Earth
“Question. Do the teachers know that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, or do they just think that?”
Neither. Teachers base their curriculum on the advisory of the state (in most Westernised countries), and the state bases their advice on the advisory of scientific consensus—at least on matters of science, which the age of the Earth is definitely a part of.
So, let’s rephrase your queston a little so that it makes some kind of sense. Do the scientists know that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, or do they just think that?
Again, the answer is neither. The scientists base their opinions on the available evidence which, much to your dismay, leans rather heavily in the Earth being very, very old. In fact, they can calculate it to a margin of error of around 5% (4.54 ± 0.05 x 109 years, again this isn’t difficult information to come across). And it’s not all just “radiometric” dating, that you love to bandy about so much. But, we’ll move along for the moment.
“Were they there?”
Were you there when Jesus was crucified? Were you there when God spoke the world into existence? If the reliance upon evidence, as opposed to personal account, is insufficient then you’re not really giving yourself much room to provide a counter argument. Where does this lead, ultimately? Did George Washington ever cross the Delaware? Did Captain Cook ever sail to watch the transit of Venus? Did America ever win it’s independence from Britain? Were you there?
This is an absurd argument from incredulity and, as usual, it serves to demonstrate nothing other than your own idiocy.
“Did you know that in the early 1800s the Earth was thought to be about 10,000 years old?”
I’m not even going to bother quoting the rest of this as it doesn’t really warrant any more room. Suffice to say, this is still nonsense. The Earth isn’t getting older, we are simply learning more about how old the Earth has always been.
Rather than continue with this, I’ll simply redirect you here and move on. Really, when you’re presenting an argument against established scientific understanding, it’s best to actually understand that which you argue against. The evidence is, really, one-sided and the conclusion as certain as any other—TalkOrigins.org is your friend.
Six Kinds of Evolution
This is just one big strawman argument with a nice central theme of equivocation. The only thing you get right is that most of these aren’t evolution. The problem is that you don’t seem to understand why.
1) Cosmic Evolution
Evolution, in the sense that most scientists use it, refers to the process of allelic variation within reproducing organisms. The Universe is not a reproducing organism. The origins of the Universe can not be explained through biology, so we have to turn to a rather specific branch of physics called cosmology. While I’m not seeking to prove any theories here, I will point out that a plausible explanation is all that’s really needed to shunt your’s aside.
Recommended reading: Lawrence Krauss’ “A Universe From Nothing” and Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”.
Since science is enquiry, above all else, this is most certainly a scientific endeavour. While it is true that the actual moment of the Universe’s beginning has not been observed or proven, there is a wealth of evidence which seems to support the view that something happened, a long time ago, to cause an infinitesimal point to expand rather rapidly. Rapidly, in this case, being a gross understatement.
2) Chemical Evolution
Again, not evolution. Chemical change is described by chemistry or, in this particular case, physics—not biology.
“The evolution of higher elements from hydrogen, also not proven.”
Please explain the Sun for me then.
3) Stellar and Planetary Evolution
Again, not evolution. Refer yourself, please, to astrophysics. We have a rather solid understanding of how stars form, a lot of which has been pieced together from observational evidence and the extrapolation of scientific theories. We also have a rather solid understanding of how planets form, based mostly on mathematical models and computer simulations which are, themselves, based on observation.
Are you even trying? Without the “hand of God” we have forces like gravity that do the work for us.
4) Organic Evolution
Not quite evolution. See abiogenesis.
While we don’t entirely know how organic compounds (molecules of carbon) can become self-replicating, but science is working on it.
And, just so we’re aware, “there’s no way to get life from non-living material” is a factual statement. You can never, absolutely, prove a factual statement—but you can disprove it. Amino acids are crucial organic components, which we’ve been able to create in the lab since the 1950s. Even if we can’t create a replicating molecule yet… Oh wait.
Too bad you didn’t wait a couple of years before making such a claim, huh?
5) Macro Evolution, 6) Micro Evolution
Of course, I’m going to start with the time tested response: so, you can walk a foot but you can’t walk a mile? What’s the actual difference between micro- and macro-evolution? Absolutely nothing, it’s variation within species. One is just a few variations over a short period of time, the other is a lot of variations over a long period of time.