A Common Atheist Contention…

I had to make a post about this, because it is something that amuses me, and it has come up once more in the past few days.  Just so everyone here knows, when I’m “absent” for a while from my blog, I’m usually carrying on apologetics elsewhere on the web.  This week I was dialoguing with two atheists simultaneously on another website.

When in deep discussion on topics such as Darwinian evolution, philosophy, psychology, etc… there is an assumption that many of the atheists I’ve dialogued with make.  That assumption (contention), especially when it comes to Darwinian evolution is that if you don’t buy into it, you obviously have never been exposed to any real educational or scientific material.  Translation; if you don’t swallow the Darwinist line, you are a poor ignorant wretch who doesn’t know any better.

And lest anyone think this is a personal issue; it isn’t.  I’ve seen this contention leveled against many many different individuals, not just me.  What is also amusing is that the atheists leveling this charge think they are being polite…because we all know if you don’t buy into Darwinian evolution and you actually do have a scientific education, then you have to be either a liar or suffering from delusions. Heh.

So, anyway, I politely explain that I’ve graduated high school, university, and grad school, and am now teaching at a college level, and that I assure them I’ve been exposed to Darwinist thought all through my educational career, and further, to toot my own horn since it is relevant; I’ve aced every class in which Darwinism is preached.  Can you guess the next contention?  “You had to have gone through a religious institution, and you have to be teaching at a religious institution.”  Seriously.  And, this isn’t limited to discussions of Darwinist evolution by any means; the latest instance of this was when I was discussing Pascal’s Wager.

When I point out that, in fact, I’ve never attended, nor taught at a religious institution, that I’ve had all of my education and employment at secular schools, there is a deafening silence from the other side.  It throws a kink in their thought processes, and that is sad.  Why is it sad?  Because they have this false impression given them by leading atheist proselytizers that Christians are a bunch of drooling idiots…which in turn shows the tendency of some leading atheists to resort to ad hominem attacks against believers.

So, what is the point of this post?  Don’t assume just because someone opposes things like Darwinian evolution that they lack the necessary exposure (kind of like a virus maybe?) to the Naturalists’ POV.  I shouldn’t have to assure anyone that at this point in our society, we’ve all been exposed, and it is starting now even prior to grade school in things like children’s cartoons.  If you doubt a person’s education (formal or informal), their experience with Darwinist thought or something similar, after checking your own biases, just ask if you truly want to know and aren’t being facetious or sarcastic.

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34 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, Origins

34 responses to “A Common Atheist Contention…

  1. Exposure doesn’t mean understanding. And understanding doesn’t mean acceptance.

    I’m completely willing to accept that there are people who both understand evolution and yet still think it’s wrong.

    I just find those people to be even more wrong than those who don’t understand evolution. If you don’t understand something, or are only fed biased propaganda about something from others who have an ideological bent, it’s expected that you don’t accept it.

    If you fully understand evolution and still don’t accept it, my only question is why you believe anything that science says.

    • Kliska

      The charge leveled against many who reject Darwinist thought is that they obviously haven’t even been exposed to it in a “positive” light…hence the usual charge of attending a religious school.

      Here you make a classic mistake in making Darwinian evolution somehow synonymous with “science.” Science is in no way encapsulated by Darwinian evolution…in fact, the scientific method, when applied properly, holds danger for Darwinist thought. This blog post isn’t going into that, merely sharing my experience and my amusement at the reaction of many atheists I’ve talked with when it comes to their incredulity over the fact that someone can be well versed in Darwinist thought, and science in general, and yet reject the idea of macro-evolution based on the evidence.

      I know it causes a great deal of anxiety when someone coming from a Darwinist position runs into someone who doesn’t buy it, and that person rejecting Darwinian evolution is intelligent, and has plenty of formal education, including the sciences.

  2. I’m not sure if you’d identify yourself as a ‘Creationist’, but the vast majority of Creationists (or those who are ‘opposed to Darwinism’) that I’ve come across actually have been incredibly ignorant about evolution. Take a look at any of the Creationist blogs on WordPress and you’ll find post after post of barely coherent nonsense. I’m willing to generalise here and say that every Creationist I’ve ever personally spoken to has been like this. Most atheists who have debated Creationists will tell the same thing.

    That doesn’t necessarily justify making unwarranted assumptions about anyone, but it may explain why people think ‘uninformed’ as soon as they hear ‘I disagree with Darwinism’. (And that’s not even getting into the fact that the word ‘Darwinism’ itself is a fairly large red flag.)

    I’ve also just noticed that you have a link to Answers in Genesis in your ‘Links of Interest’. This is precisely what I’m talking about; I really can’t imagine anyone who knows much science being comfortable linking to a site like that.

    • Kliska

      Yes, I fully identify myself as a Creationist, and right now, with the evidence available, I lean young earth. I can find blog after blog and post after post of barely coherent nonsense in any area of conversation, and any topic, that’s the internet for you.

      Unwarranted assumptions against people seems to be the norm when someone has the daring to oppose Darwinist thought. Yes, I know that “Darwinism” would tend to raise a red flag with someone, since more and more Darwinists are trying to ban the “D” word from people’s lexicons, it’s actually a smart psychological move, but one I hope doesn’t work.

      Yes, I’ve studied Answers in Genesis’ material, and even been to their museum. I’ve also looked into the credentials and experience of the scientists in their organization, of which they have many. Once more at the tail end of your post you can’t help but try to cast doubt on my knowledge when it comes to science. I’ve explained my educational background and assure you I’ve had, and aced (secular) university level courses in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anthropology, Archaeology, etc… etc… and that is just my formal education. Whether or not anyone believes me is no concern of mine, I just find the unwarranted assumptions interesting, and worth pointing out.

  3. Martin

    That’s because we’re flabbergasted.

    Us: “The earth is a sphere.”
    You: “Nope. It’s flat.”
    Us: “Are you stupid?”
    You: “Nope. Went to college.”
    Us: “Flat Earther College?”
    You: “Nope. Regular college.”
    Us: “????”

    • Kliska

      Thank you for further demonstrating the rhetoric employed by someone from the Darwinist camp. I let this one go for example’s sake, any more rhetoric will be deleted.

  4. Science is in no way encapsulated by Darwinian evolution…in fact, the scientific method, when applied properly, holds danger for Darwinist thought.

    No it doesn’t.

    As for formal education, there are plenty of PhDs who believe all sorts of insane or stupid things. One of the first thing I’ve learned as an undergraduate is that holding a degree does not make someone infallible by any means.

    You’re already walking down the same well-treaded path that every other Creationist I’ve ever met has followed. Now would be an excellent time to demonstrate your understanding of evolution.

    • Kliska

      Good science, things like actual observational science, does not support the idea of Darwinian macro-evolution; but that is not the topic of this blog post.

      My post was not whether or not formal education is sufficient or not, nor is it a post dealing with the evidences and lack of evidences of evolution, it is a post pointing out the unwarranted assumptions I’ve experience many atheists, and Darwinists, make against anyone who dares oppose their POV.

      PS, if you go into grad school you’ll see even more examples of Ph.D.’s who don’t actually know anything of much use, and worse, lack common sense. Of course, to be fair, there are plenty of good Master’s and Ph.D.’s out there too.

  5. DB Williams

    To quote Willy Shakespeare, “Methinks these atheists doth protest too much;-)”

    If atheists are so certain about Darwin’s little theory, then why do they spend so much time defending it to the rest of us: who, in their estimation, are “ignorant” or “stupid?” Sounds to me like they may be uncertain themselves!

  6. DB Williams,

    Imagine if you lived in a society where a substantial number of people truly, genuinely believed that space (as in outer space) was a vast scientific hoax and that the Earth represented the totality of the universe. Imagine that this view was frequently endorsed by politicans and religious leaders, who were trying hard to get it taught in high school science classes.

    Would you sit by and do nothing?

    (And for the record, there are many, many Christian scientists who defend the theory of evolution just as strongly as their atheist colleagues.)

    • Kliska

      augustine; what you are using here is called a rhetorical analogy. Comparing the idea of ID’s, or even Creationism’s opposition to Darwinian evolution to someone who doesn’t believe in space is laughable. As I said, people turn to this type of rhetoric when their anxiety is up over the fact that there are scientists using scientific evidences on each side of this issue, and not all of them buy into Darwinian evolution based on the evidence.

      And yes, there are many scientists who are Christian that believe the theory of Darwinian evolution, but that doesn’t speak to the actual topic of my blog post, nor does it prove or support Darwinian evolution.

  7. Kiska,

    I can assure you, the great majority of Creationist claims are just as ridiculous and laughable as the example I gave. I used such a ridiculous hypothetical situation advisedly. However, this is irrelevant, since DB was only talking about my motivations, not whether evolution is actually true. He claimed that ‘atheists’ (and only atheists, apparently) argue against Creationism because they’re afraid of it, whereas they actually argue against it because they see it as both insane and worryingly widespread.

    • Kliska

      Your assurance isn’t a sufficient premise, and it was indeed a ridiculous hypothetical; which merely underscores the rhetoric. As for atheists arguing against creationism, that is all well and good; it is the incorrect ad hominem attacks that are leveled against those that do not buy into Darwinian evolution that was the point of my post. Once more you resort to rhetoric in your terminology. “Insane” is one of those lovely words many non-believers use in order to try to color others’ opinions against people who don’t believe as you do, and also used to make yourself more secure in your own beliefs; after all, if you can convince yourself that people that oppose Darwinian evolution are “insane” then you never have to look at the evidence presented.

  8. Martin

    Kliska,

    But these people who did not believe in outer space would not be just a few people with a strong opinion. They would be 100% certain of it. Unshakable belief. No matter what you tried to do, short of taking them up in a spaceship, they would continue to deny reality.

    And even if you took them up in a ship, they would almost certainly retreat into conspiracy theory.

    And if you point out the absurdity of this alleged conspiracy, they would further retreat into claims of, not a conspiracy, but “an oppressive Outer Space establishment that continues to stifle all opposition.”

    And you and me would quite rightly think they are nuts.

    And we might compare them to, say 9/11 conspiracy theorists, or Bigfoot-believers.

    And do you know what their answer would be?

    “Comparing the idea of Earth Only’s opposition to Outer Space theory to someone who doesn’t believe in Bigfoot is laughable.”

    You would not be able to convince them, no matter what.

    Every proclamation of yours that “we’ve been studying Outer Space for centuries; no serious astronomer doubts its existence” would be met with “more and more astronomers are coming around; there are serious cracks in Outer Space theory.”

    Of course, you and I know this simply isn’t true. No astronomer doubts the existence of Outer Space at all.

    Are these people living in an alternate universe? Are there fingers in their ears? Are they screaming “La la la I can’t hear you”?

    Why do they keep saying things that are blatantly false?

    What would you do with such people, if they kept trying to squeeze Earth Only theory into the public school curriculum? What if they wanted to teach YOUR kids that Outer Space does not exist, that many astronomers doubt its existence, and that the stars are little ice crystals 3 miles above the surface of the earth?

    Might as well teach them that 2 + 2 = 17.624, no?

    • Kliska

      Once more Martin, you are presenting a rhetorical analogy. You and other Darwinist wish that observational science backed up Darwinian evolution, as it backs up the fact of “space” itself. That simply is not the case. Anyone reading this can go check out the evidences for themselves, and research Creationism, ID, theistic evolution, Darwinian evolution, etc… and make up their own minds, I’m all for intellectual freedom unlike many Darwinists.

      No more rhetoric, thanks.

  9. Roger

    Since Macro evolution was mentioned I’d like to ask a question.

    Many times creationists say they believe in micro evolution but not in macro evolution. As if the two where different processes and not just the same thing just over different length of time.

    It’s been shown in many studies, some over 20 or more years that you can get some significant change in bacteria as well as larger lifeforms like fruit flies through natural selection (not forced selection). Whit this kind of scientific prof and the knowledge that macro evolution is just the same thing over many thousands, millions or billions of years. What reason do you have to just simply say that it not true?

    Combined with the the fossil record, that do include a multitude of so called transitional forms. As well as the genetic studies where science can pinpoint where different species diverged and based on large amounts of data extrapolate when in time and where on the planet it happened.

    Why are you willing to just through all that away as if it has no value on determining the most likely explanation for the biological multitude all around us.

    If you take all you claim to know about evolution, all those facts and all the facts that you believe explains how it came to be and compare them. Side to side. With no bias, would you then say that their are more evidence for a biblical or what ever you would call it theory then the theory of evolution?

    If this is the case, where are all the peer reviewed papers. Surely they must be out there, supporting this “biblical” theory. If the evidence is there where are the studies, the publication, the papers that are off a decent enough quality to be accepted by the scientific community?

    • Kliska

      “Micro evolution” is supported by the evidence, as is natural selection. Macro evolution has never been shown; it has been assumed. The fact is that when fruit flies change over time, they are still fruit flies. Look at what we humans do to dogs in our breeding programs; we have these little teacup poodles all the way up to these monstrous (but gorgeous) Great Danes, or Irish Wolfhounds; they are still dogs. Change within “kind” is not evidence that all species come from a pile of goo; it is not evidence that we share a common ancestor. For macro-evolution to function, there needs to be an increase in genetic information, not just a change or a mutation, nor a loss of information.

      The fossil record actually works against the idea of macro-evolution. Darwin himself posited that there should be tons of transitional forms that clearly show gradual change over time; there isn’t. Even those fossils that are often touted as transitional forms fall flat. The “genetic studies” you mention are based on presupposition; it is already presupposed that all life has a common ancestor, therefore the scientist are interpreting the data through their bias. I don’t throw away the data, but I do think it points in a different direction. The truth is that we all have presuppositions, some are just more honest and open about what those presuppositions are.

      The most likely explanation for the biological multitude around us is the fact that a Creator created all you see, in fact creation itself cries out the fact of a Creator. The wonderful thing is that this Creator wants a personal relationship with us humans, and has set about events, namely the life, death and resurrection of His Son to ensure that relationship, or the chance of that relationship. If you have any questions about the Creator; God, or His Son; Jesus, let me know, I really would be more than happy to talk to you about Him. And yes, there is evidence for a Biblical worldview; there is evidence that there is a Creator, and there is evidence for Jesus; obviously I do believe there is more evidence for Them than there is for Darwinian evolution.

      Now, about the “peer reviewed” papers. The problem is that the modern scientific establishment, the ones in the positions of power, have declared that they have already cornered the market on truth. Anyone who does not fall in line with their perceived notion of the truth is in danger of, at the least, losing their job (look into the case of Richard Sternberg if you like). I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about the movie “Expelled.” This movie is a good introduction to the fact that those scientists who presently occupy those positions of power are in large part Materialists, Naturalists, Darwinists, etc… take your pick. They are an interested party; they are interested in maintaining their positions and their power, and this mandates that they attempt to squelch any theory that attempts to show how wrong they could be, or how wrong they are.

      I don’t want this comments section to degenerate into an all out discussion on every aspect of evolution; that’s not the topic of my post; the topic was the fact that a common atheist contention is that those of us who oppose Darwinism must not have an education, nor have ever been exposed to Darwinist thought. That contention isn’t true, and shows a lot hidden, and wrong, assumptions on the part of many atheists.

  10. roger

    “This movie is a good introduction to the fact that those scientists who presently occupy those positions of power are in large part Materialists, Naturalists, Darwinists, etc… take your pick. They are an interested party; they are interested in maintaining their positions and their power, and this mandates that they attempt to squelch any theory that attempts to show how wrong they could be, or how wrong they are.”

    Or maybe the creationist theory just doesn’t hold water. Conspiracy theories about scientists suppressing rival theories just comes across as silly.

    • Kliska

      Your comment doesn’t line up with the situation. The Creationist theory is not the only POV that is under attack, so is ID, which is what the movie Expelled is about, not Creationism. The problem is that it isn’t just “scientists” suppressing rival theories, as there are plenty of scientists who don’t buy into Darwin’s theory…no, the problem is that it’s the scientists in positions of power that are out to maintain their positions. As for it being a conspiracy theory, that would mean that there is no evidence to back it up. In this case there is evidence of IDers, Creationists, and even Darwinists who dare to be open minded being fired, or persecuted in other ways for opposing the majority.

  11. “the problem is that it’s the scientists in positions of power”

    You mean the 99% of scientists?

    And I’m not even kidding.

  12. Oh wow, so I was 4% off. My apologies.

    95%

    • Kliska

      Theistic evolutionists, although wrong, are not Naturalistic/Darwinist evolutionists in the main. Theistic means that they believe God set it all up, and many theistic evolutionists believe God designed everything, programmed everything ahead of time to work out the way it has. Deists may not; God set up the world like a watch, wound it, then took His hands off. Only 50% of the scientists surveyed were Naturalistic evolutionists.

  13. Barry Desborough

    1) That some ‘atheists’ accuse you of being ignorant does not, in itself, argue against the theory of evolution.

    2) It is incorrect to identify those who accept evolution with atheism, and those who deny it with Christianity. Most Christians accept the theory of evolution, and evolution-deniers are not exclusively Christian.

    3) I have a great deal of experience in ‘debating’ evolution with evolution-deniers. Most of them are lamentably ignorant of biology, and of science in general. Be they Christian, Muslim or members of the Jewish faith (they are almost always followers of some branch of the Abrahamc faiths), the motivation is invariably what they think of as religious, even among the minority that have a basic grasp of the theory of evolution, who make a show of having ‘serious’ objections. There are no non-religious objectors to the theory of evolution, a fact that ought to give people pause for thought.

    • Kliska

      1) Never said it was an argument against the theory of evolution; what I do contend is that there are those that act as though those of us who do not believe Darwinian evolution is supported by the facts and evidence are ignorant of science.

      2) I’ve never identified those who accept evolution with atheism and those who deny it with Christianity, so that isn’t an issue. However, statistics would tend to back up the trend, as most atheists do indeed buy into Darwinian evolution, and Darwinian evolution is based on materialism and naturalism. Also, most Christians do not accept Darwinian evolution, but rather a form of guided evolution.

      3) Thank you for supporting my argument. And, there are indeed non-religious objectors to the theory of Darwinian Evolution; amongst them one rather outspoken agnostic I know. Selah.

  14. Barry Desborough

    1) I never said you said it was an argument against the theory. I was merely pointing out the fact that it was not. ‘Guilt by association’ arguments commit a basic fallacy, but they are often used against evolution. I’m sure you don’t want your readers to get any false impression that that is what you were attempting.

    2) “I’ve never identified those who accept evolution with atheism and those who deny it with Christianity…” I suggest you read your post again! Re. most atheists accepting evolution, this is to be expected if the only objections to evolution are ones that are made out of religious motivations.

    3) Re. non-religious objectors, well, there’s always at least one odd-one-out, isn’t there? There are flat-earthers too. Who is this Selah? I’m interested in the nature of his/her objections. Can you provide me with any references?

    • Kliska

      1) You implied such by your very response, quit playing games.

      2) I suggest you not try to mind read others, and maybe you should read the post again, this time don’t read into it anything that isn’t there.

      3) Look up the term “Selah,” it isn’t a person; it is a Hebrew word oft translated “think on that.” Don’t ignore the point, or gloss over it; there are indeed non-religious (even anti-religious) individuals who have discovered the very serious flaws in Darwinian evolutionary theory…one off the top of my head is a “Dave Scott” which is indeed an alias I believe, he hangs around and contributes articles every now and again over at Uncommon Descent; he’s an agnostic that doesn’t appreciate religion much at all and is quite open about it.

      • Barry Desborough

        ‘Implications’…

        Well, this could run and run 🙂

        Perhaps you would care to continue here,

        *link edited out by Kliska*

        a Christian discussion forum?

      • Kliska

        Barry, thanks for the invite, but I must decline. I’m kept a bit busy with all the other forums and this blog, which I’ve been neglecting horribly. The link was edited because I don’t know the content of the forums, though I know it is indeed a Christian discussion forum. Also, I appreciate you not taking the comments to this post off topic of the blog post.

  15. SEM

    Hello Kliska,

    This has made fascinating reading to one with very little education! All I can contribute about Darwin; is that he lived only a few miles from my own home!
    Have you heard about the new film ‘Creation’ about Darwin? It is on in my local Cinema and we hope to see it on the big screen, as well as buy the DVD.

    I wonder if you know of Professor Dr. Grady S. McMurtry? He is a palaeontologist, a former evolutionist, and a life member of Mensa. For such an intelligent man, his articles are easy for even me to understand.

    http://www.creationworldview.org/default.asp

    • Kliska

      I haven’t heard, nor seen “Creation,” you’ll have to tell me if you like it or not! I don’t know McMurtry either, and never been to the website. Ha! I’ve been a lot of help in this discussion 😉 I’m looking up some things before replying to your email to me…I never heard of the couple you mentioned and have been reading up on them.

  16. SEM

    My dear Kliska
    No wonder you haven’t heard of the British film ‘Creation’! I have just discovered the US distributors have said ‘no’ to its promotion in the States. It seems it is causing divisions in churches around the world. Oer!
    Thank you for considering my email; I had assumed you knew the Bobgans because of your work.
    As for McMurtry; I only meant that with all his intelligence, he has rejected evolution in favour of Jesus Christ as The Creator. One of your posters used the old familiar error about the ‘flat earth’; with that in mind, McMurtry has an article explaining that the ‘flat earth’ story; is a modern day urban myth, and that mankind has always been fully aware of the earth being a sphere (including Colombus). Quote “ – that story is the invention of a struggling American author of fiction – Washington Irving (1783-1859). Yes, the story of the flat earth and Columbus is the work of the author of the Sketch Book (1820), which included his stories of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (The Headless Horseman) and Rip Van Winkle”. It has been shown to be an issue raised by secular humanists while attempting to defend the idea of Christian ignorance versus the “enlightened rationalists” the evolutionists.
    Hopefully you will find the article here. http://www.creationworldview.org/articles_view.asp?id=13

    Another scientist told me that Creation made sense to him when He recognised that Jesus is who He says He is. Because Jesus had spoken of the Genesis account, he began to look more carefully into the claims of evolution, and he realised how faulty this belief/faith is and rejected the theory. He realised it meant Jesus would be a liar, if what He said about Creation, wasn’t true.
    As for me, when I look at a beautiful piece of art, I know for a fact there is an artisan behind it. So from the minute secret world only seen through a microscope, to the vast and stupendous universe not yet observable, good old fashioned, common sense tells me there has to be a creator. There is, and I am personally acquainted with Him.
    God bless you.

    • Fatpie42

      “(including Colombus)”

      Sorry? Don’t you mean PARTICULARLY Colombus?

      After all, if he hadn’t known the Earth was a sphere he would never have believed that he was discovering an alternative route to India. (Hence the area he arrived at being described as the “West Indies”.) Colombus was not expecting to find a whole new continent, but to open up a new trade route for spices and suchlike from the east by circumnavigating the globe from the other direction.

      • Kliska

        “Including,” IMO works the best in this case, though I can’t speak for the author. It shows that he wasn’t the only one, though he was an important one, as pointed out. Also, as for your other comment, I don’t ok comments linking to pro-Darwinian evolution proselytizing-type sites such as the one you linked to; and yes, I’m very familiar with it, and their points are answered on places like AiG for a creationist POV or Uncommon Descent for an ID POV.

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