The Illusion in Attacks, Part 5A

This entry is part 13 of 47 in the series Blog1

God, Evolution and Intelligent design, Part 1

There is perhaps no other subject which is the basis of more ridicule of the Left than a belief in God or anything connected with a Higher Power. If a person gives any credit or acknowledgement to a Higher Source one runs the risk of being called out as utterly stupid by the Left.

I have had reasonable experience in dealing with such attacks, especially since the appearance of the internet. On a typical political forum I have found that just the mention of God is enough to bring out the wolves of attack in unbelievable proportions.

I say unbelievable because, according to a Gallup Poll, as of May 2011, 92% of Americans believe in  God. But when I have entered political discussions online it seems to be the other way around.  It seems that nine out of ten are atheists with very leftist leanings. I live in Idaho, one of the most conservative and religious states in the country, yet any discussion online at the local paper draws tremendous ridicule at the mere mention of God. You’d think I was arguing with the readers of Pravda of the old Soviet Union.

The strange thing is that in political discussions online, as well as attacks through the media, the supposed unscientific belief in God, or Intelligent Design, is usually associated with Republicans.  But here’s the kicker.  Gallup, in that same poll just mentioned, revealed that 90% of Democrats believe in God. The strange thing is that when the Left points fingers at and makes fun of believers as unscientific Republican backward dolts they are pointing fingers at many of their own.  If nine out of ten Democrats believe in God then there is a large silent majority there who believe who also lean to conservative beliefs.

Another Gallup poll revealed that a mere 17% of Democrats accept the standard theory of evolution as taught in schools – that man evolved with no intelligent design or creation by God.

This is indeed a strange statistic since it is usually Democrats attacking Republicans and Libertarians as being backward and unscientific for a belief that God had a hand in creation. It is also strange that if anyone suggests that any alternative to atheistic evolution be taught in schools that there is a large outcry. I use the word strange because Gallup also reveals that only 22% are opposed to teaching the alternative to the kids that God had a hand in creation.

That 22% must be extremely vocal and influential for they have indeed succeeded at keeping the mention of God out of the classroom and raise the dickens in the media at the slightest suggestion of teaching any other view than strict atheistic evolution.

Again it appears that there are a lot of Democrats quietly siding with believers but these are apparently the silent wing of their party. I would imagine that when they see the Republicans attacked as being backward and stupid for their belief in God that they prefer to be silent rather than to be identified with the opposing party.

It is interesting that the extreme Right is often identified as the evangelical Christians but an overlooked fact is that around 25% of these are Democrats.  In some states it is higher.

In Missouri 2008, the exit polls showed 34 percent of all white evangelicals who voted took part in the Democratic primary and the figure was 32% in Tennessee.

When looking at these figures I can only conclude that in defending spiritual believers of all types from the attacks of the Left I am not only defending Republicans, independents and Libertarians, but many Democrats also. To attack believers as being extreme right wing is crazy talk when 92% of us believe in God.  Where does the real extreme lie?  Is it more likely to be the 92% or the 8%?  The answer is obvious.

The question to ask if we are to examine this subject dispassionately is this: Exactly how dos the Left accuse the Right of being dumb and unscientific and are such accusations justified?

First, let us establish this.  There are those of all political persuasions who have members with beliefs that are not scientific. That is a given and it is mean spirited to single them out as dumb. Some people are in a near genius category in one area of life and are ill informed, with blind spots in other areas.

Aristotle is still considered a genius yet he had the mistaken notion that females were a lower species than the male and taught that the earth was the center of the universe.

If a member of the Left could see the whole picture he may be embarrassed to discover that the overall intelligence of the religious person he is calling dumb is in reality much smarter than himself.  The best thing to do is to not start a fight by pointing fingers and mindlessly call each other names such as dumb, stupid, imbecile etc. In place of this I have no problem with anyone pointing out the error of a person’s ways such as I am doing in this treatise. Here I am taking examples of name-calling and illustrating with facts and reasoning that the name caller is guiltier of the insult than the victim.

On the other hand, calling someone unscientific does not fit into the category of name-calling, but it can be insulting and mean spirited if it is not true.  For instance, orthodox global warming skeptics are often called such and, as we illustrated earlier, this is usually not the case at all.

To accurately question whether an approach is scientific or not it is helpful to realize that scientific investigation falls into three basic categories.

(1) The discovery and use of data and facts.

These are points that are accepted as true beyond reasonable dispute. One can be 99.99% sure that such things are true. Here are some examples of accepted facts.

• The earth has four seasons

• The sun is roughly 93 million miles from the earth

• Jupiter is larger than the Earth.

• Electrons have a negative charge.

The true seeker though will always be open to the possibility that an established fact may be incorrect while realizing the chances of that happening is slim.

For instance, it has been accepted as fact that particles cannot exceed the speed of light at 299,792 kilometres (186,282 miles) per second. This fact seemed to be turned on its head when an experiment from Cern measured neutrinos going slightly over that limit.  Scientists were relieved that they didn’t have to rewrite the rules of the universe when repeated experiments revealed a glitch in the measurements.

However, this is not always the case. Perhaps the most famous rewriting of accepted scientific fact was done by Galileo in demonstrating that the earth is not the center of the universe. It certainly looked like the sun was moving around the earth but this turned out to be pure illusion.

More recently Einstein’s Theory of Relativity completely rewrote the “facts” of Newtonian physics.

(2) Scientific best guesses or estimates.

These are areas of investigation where the exact data or truth is not known so a best guess or estimate is known that seems to be in harmony with established facts and research.

The age of the earth is a good example of this. Until the late eighteenth century the age of the earth was determined by religious philosophy. In the Christian world this was determined to be 10,000 years or less. Aristotle thought the earth and universe had always existed.  Plato wrote that civilizations on earth went through cycles of 36,000 years – called Magnus Annus. Islam was smart in that they did not set an age.  The Hindus came closest to modern science, believing that the Universe was billions of years old and started with a Big Bang.

It wasn’t until 1779 that the scientific method began to be used to determine the age of the earth. The French naturalist the Comte du Buffon attempted to obtain the age of Earth by experimentation and came to the conclusion it was about 75,000 years old.

It wasn’t long after that that researchers concluded its age had to be in the millions of years but we didn’t realize the real antiquity of the earth until radioactive decay started to be used for dating in the early twentieth century. Then scientists realized the earth was billions of years old. Today the age has been set at 4.54 billion years of age with about a 99 percent certainty in the eyes of scientists.

Even with all the refinement of measurement and certainty, new revelations on our age continue to emerge.  For instance, the element samarium-146 has been used measure the passage of time in the early earth and solar system. Its half-life was thought to be 103 million years but more testing recently revealed that this was way off. Instead it was 68 million. This would mean the early earth evolved about 34% faster than previously calculated – a pretty huge mistake. Story Here

We thus see that the age of the earth and its geological history are determined by intelligent guesses of scientists.  Those best guesses may be altered at any given moment by some new discovery, as happened with the half-life of samarium-146.

In addition to the age of the earth, items falling into this second category of scientific guesswork or estimating are:

•What the early universe was like.

•Whether Mars was once suitable for life.

•What the interior of the earth is like.

•When the sun will burn out.

•What the New Horizons spacecraft will find when it encounters Pluto in 2015.

•Whether taking multiple vitamins are good for you?

(3) Scientific theory.

Theory uses some guesswork and estimates but is in a different category and usually involves more unknowns and often borders on philosophy with some science fiction thrown in. Theory is used fill a gap in understanding.

We know with a high degree of certainty that the earth is over 4 billion years old and guess at its exact age. On the other hand, there are large gaps in our knowledge about exactly what caused the earth, sun and moon to form so we will fill in the holes with theories that seem to provide an explanation.

A theory can have a high probability of being true or a low one. For instance, the Big Bang is a theory that scientists believe has a high probability of truth. What caused the Big Bang, or whether universes existed before the Big Bang, would involve theories with a much lower probability of being true because we have so little information available to formulate a picture.

Differentiating scientific investigation into these three categories is important because theory, guesswork and actual facts are often lumped together as having equal validity. Not only do laymen make this mistake but also scientists. Both the professionals and the common man often make the mistake of presenting guesswork and theory as if they are facts.

Let us take the Big Bang Theory again as an example. In arriving at the idea of the Big Bang many facts come into play.  It is a fact that there is a background radiation that seems to be residual heat left over from the Big Bang. The facts seem to tell us the universe is expanding. Then we move to category two and make a guess as to when that expansion began.  Finally, we move into theory when we attempt to explain the initial explosion itself.

The Big Bang theory has now become so accepted that few scientists even question it but accept it as fact. The trouble is that this acceptance of a theory as settled fact closes the door to alternative theories.

A scientist by the name of William C. Mitchell concluded that some white dwarf stars are over 20 billion years old, thus a Big Bang from nothing couldn’t have happened 13.7 billion years ago.

A Physicist named Eric Lerner concluded galaxy clusters would have taken much longer than 13.7 billion years to form and created a plasma theory for the creation of the universe.

These men and others are ignored and not even considered because many scientists are as closed as the politicians and often see the theory as settled science, not to be challenged.

To challenge the Big Bang, orthodox global warming and other theories sometimes gets a similar response to challenging the divinity of Jesus to a fundamentalist.

Then when we enter territory that overlaps the areas of science, religion and philosophy, such as intelligent design, creationism and evolution, feathers really start to ruffle.

Copyright 2012 by J J Dewey

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