Monday, February 28, 2011

Facts and Opinions

I’ve been down this road a few times before. Concept, there are “facts” and there are “opinions.” And, guess what, they are different things.

A fact is anything that can be objectively verified. You cannot challenge a fact once it has been established as accurate. You can challenge its accuracy, but once its accuracy has been established, you have to deal with it.

Allow me to provide an example. In a conversation about global warming I made the statement that a Pew Research study showed that 80% of scientists accept that global warming is occurring. Someone “challenged my numbers.” Well, you can’t challenge what I said because it is an absolute fact. The Pew Research study did exist and 80% was the number it published. You can challenge Pew Research’s methodology or conclusions or whatever, but that’s much harder than challenging what you thought was my opinion.

If I had simply said “80% of scientists accept global warming,” then the challenge, as stated, would have been appropriate. If I couldn’t produce a citation, then it’s simply my opinion and, by definition, opinions are subjective. Even if I could produce a citation, it might just be the opinion of someone else.

Now, it’s been my experience that Liberals understands this more than Conservatives (yes, that is an opinion that you would be within your rights to challenge). It’s also been my experience that the reason for this (here comes another opinion) is that the evidence is more often on the Liberal side.

To the Liberal, Correct = True. To the Conservative, Correct = Moral and, unfortunately, True is not always the same thing as Moral. The Conservative tends to look at things through a prism of subjective morality. The Liberal tends to look at things through prism of objective truth (there’s another opinion you can challenge to your heart’s content). Keep in mind however that either the Conservative’s Morality or the Liberal’s Truth can be challenged as wrong.

Why do I say this? Well, let’s consider some of the hot button issues shall we?

To the Conservative this is murder and therefore morally wrong = Subjective Morality. To the Liberal there are cases where an abortion may be necessary = Objective Truth. So who decides when, if ever, an abortion is necessary?

To a Conservative, faith is a virtue = Subjective Morality. To a Liberal, show me the evidence = Objective Truth.

To a Conservative, the bible says it and that settles it = Subjective Morality. To a Liberal, the scientific evidence indicates…=Objective Truth.

Global Warming
To a Conservative, God is in charge and man cannot undo God’s creation = Subjective Morality. To a Liberal, the scientific evidence indicates…=Objective Truth.

To a Conservative, my mommy sense tells me… = Subjective Morality. To a Liberal, the scientific evidence indicates…=Objective Truth.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? One more.

Balancing the Budget
To a Conservative, cut taxes (especially for the rich), reduce spending and depend upon Supply Side Tax Growth = Wishful Thinking Stupidity. To a Liberal, raise taxes and keep spending = More Wishful Thinking Stupidity.

Ok, so that one didn’t precisely work out.

The reality is that none of these positions are facts. All of them are simply opinions and opinions can always be challenged. Whether the opinion is driven by one’s view of morality or one’s view of reality doesn’t really matter. It’s still all a matter of opinion.

It’s been my experience that both Liberals and Conservatives tend to forget that little point and often equate opinion with knowledge. Perhaps that’s why we no longer seem to be able to arrive at a working compromise.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Assault on the Unions

Republican Governor Scott Walker, backed by a Republican legislature, is attempting to strip state workers in Wisconsin of the right to collectively bargain.

Here we go again. The Republicans have no problem with protecting, or even enhancing, the wealth of the upper 5% or 10% on the economic ladder and doing so by screwing the middle and working classes.

I continue to be amazed at how the Right Wing under 80 IQ trailer part idiots in this country, sometimes known as the Republican base, will stand up and cheer not restoring a 3% income tax increase on the wealthiest Americans, and at the same time cheer stripping American workers of the right to protect their jobs and wages.

Who’s side are you on anyway?

Even if there are significant budget issues, the state’s workforce shouldn’t be asked to shoulder an unfair share of the burden in addressing those issues.

Now let’s talk about what really concerns me.

The Wisconsin State Journal claims that nonpartisan budget figures indicate that Walker is actually creating an artificial deficit in the latest budget with lavish spending items on special interests allied with his administration.

You got that one? Any budget issues are due to “LAVISH SPENDING ITEMS ON SPECIAL INTERESTS!”

Now, this is an accusation levied by one newspaper, and I personally have no way of knowing if this accusation is true, but one would think that the Wisconsin electorate would DEMAND the resolution of this accusation before anything is allowed to move forward.

In the meantime the Democratic legislators have left the state in order to ensure that the State Senate doesn’t have the necessary quorum for a vote. Unbelievably I see Right Wing assholes calling them cowards. You will excuse me, but that’s called fighting evil anyway you can.

The world is upside down.

In Washington the Republicans ensure that the rich get to keep their 3% tax reduction, based in part on an argument that it would have only raised $35 billion in revenue, but the Republicans bally-hoo themselves as saviors of the Republic because they’re going to cut $65 billion in services to the middle and working classes.

So, the $35 billion from the rich was going to cripple the economy but the $65 billion isn’t? I don’t necessarily have a problem with the cuts. As a matter of fact I agree with a lot of them. But far too many of them, like what’s going on in Wisconsin, smack of being politically motivated.

“NPR and PBS are honest and don’t lie for the Republican cause like Fox News? Well goddamn, we can’t have that, cut their funding.”

“Planned parenthood provides sex education and birth control advice? Well goddamn, that upsets the Religious Right which votes Republican 99% of the time. Kill the funding for Planned Parenthood even if it means more unwanted pregnancies which would mean more abortions.”

“What’s that? More abortions? Goddamn, that’s even worse than birth control, let’s make sure no tax dollars are available for abortions. So what if poor women die from lack of a medically critical abortion, back alley abortions or self-abortions. They don’t vote for us anyway.”

That’s the Republican version of democracy, free speech and caring for those unable to care for themselves. Jesus would weep. It’s lucky for him that he doesn’t exist.

To everyone that voted Republican, and is not in the top 5% of income earners, YOU ARE A MORON.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I watched the “Watson Challenge” on “Jeopardy!” the last couple of nights.

Watson is a computer developed by IBM that, by using plain language recognition and deep information search algorithms, can actually compete like a human contestant in the quiz show “Jeopardy!”

The opponents for Watson were Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, both of whom had won several million dollars playing “Jeopardy!” and are the unchallenged champions of the game. Or at least the unchallenged human champions of the game.

The competition took place over three nights and covered two full rounds of Jeopardy! At stake was $1.5 million dollars. $1 million for the winner, $300 thousand for second and $200 thousand for third.

It was a massacre. Watson crushed the two Champs winning a total of $77,147 over the two rounds compared to Jennings’ $24,000 and Rutter’s $21,600.

It was absolutely amazing to watch the computer convert the quirky “Jeopardy!” clues into answers, which were of course properly phrased as a question, returned in a pleasant, quiet male voice. After a while I thought Alex Trebek was going to start asking Watson about his background and family.

The win was a stunning victory for IBM Research and opens the door for literally thousands of potential applications down the road for this technology. Perhaps the most important potential application would be for medical diagnostics where most of the information is only available in plain language descriptions.

Watson wasn’t perfect and, while he ran roughshod over his two human opponents in the first round, Jennings and Rutter made it a bit of a dogfight in the second round. But, in the end, Watson was unstoppable. Despite occasionally coming up with the wrong answer, and occasionally not being able to isolate the answer before his opponents, it was clear who was king of the hill. The funniest moments came with Watson’s bizarre dollar amounts put up for the Daily Doubles he uncovered. His bets of highly uneven amounts, such as $1,236, brought chuckles from the audience at IBM Research where the shows were taped.

IBM indicated that Watson’s winnings of $1 million would be given to charity and Jennings and Rutter also indicated that they would donate half of their prize money to charity.

It was impressive and a lot of fun as well. Hats off to IBM and hats off to “Jeopardy!” and ABC for taking part in the challenge.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Creationism in the Classroom

Two researchers from Penn State University have published an article in the January 28th issue of Science in which they claim that only 28% of High School Biology teachers were what they termed “Advocates of Evolutionary Biology” while 13% were “Advocates of Creationism.” The other 60% they concluded were neutral.

Needless to say this created a bit of a stir.

Personally however I found the conclusions a little hard to accept so I downloaded and reviewed the raw data.

The article was based upon a survey of 926 science teachers conducted between March and May of 2007. The survey consisted of a series of multiple choice questions. The Penn State Researchers focused in on a group of questions related to the teaching of Evolution and Creationism.

I understand their approach but I’m not sure it’s valid. In order to be categorized as an Advocate of Creationism, one had to devote at least some classroom time to teaching it and agree with (1) Creationism or Intelligent Design is presented as a valid scientific theory or (2) it is presented that many reputable scientists view Creationism or Intelligent Design as a valid alternative to Evolution or both.

On the other hand, in order to be classified as an “Advocate of Evolutionary Theory,” one had to agree with (1) the broad consensus that Evolution is fact is presented and (2) Evolution serves as the unifying theme of the course and disagree with (3) it is possible to offer an excellent biology class with no mention of Darwin or Evolution. In addition, at least two of the three answers had to be the strong position of “Strongly Agree” for (1) and (2) and “Strongly Disagree” for (3).

I’m amazed that 28% met that criteria.

When one looks at the raw data, the picture is perhaps not as bleak but still a bit concerning.

Let’s start with the fact that 14% of the respondents declared that they personally believed that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

Given that, is the 13% number so surprising?

All the following statements only include states with at least 10 respondents.
States that had the most teachers saying that they believed God created humans as is within the last 10,000 years were Oklahoma with 54%, Tennessee with 45% and Louisiana with 40%. States with 0% that believed that man was created in the last 10,000 years were Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Oregon. Of the larger states the percentage of High School Biology teachers that said they believed man was created as is within the last 10,000 years was, in California 6.7%, in New York 7.7%, in Texas 27%, in Florida 13% and in Michigan 9.3%. In Indiana it was 16% and In New Jersey 0%.

Of all respondents, 74% agreed that they emphasize the broad scientific consensus that Evolution is fact. The only state where 100% of the respondents said that they teach Evolution as fact was Utah (Utah? WTF?). Other states over 80% were Ohio 90%, Minnesota 89%, Kentucky 86% (Kentucky? WTF?), Massachusetts 85%, South Dakota 85%, New Jersey 83% and Kansas 82% (Kansas?).

The states where the fewest teachers taught that Evolution was considered a scientific fact were Alabama with 54%, followed by Nebraska with 55% and then Arizona with 60%. In Indiana 65% taught it as fact compared to 83% in New Jersey.

This brings us to how many teachers teach that Creationism or Intelligent Design is valid science. Of all respondents, 15% said that they teach Creationism as science and a valid alternative to Evolution. The states where the most teachers taught Creationism as valid science were Alabama 39%, Georgia 28%, Kansas 27% and Texas 26%.

The states where the fewest taught that were Connecticut 0%, Oregon 0%, Virginia 0%, Missouri 4.2% and California 6.7%. In New Jersey 16.2% taught Creationism was science and in Indiana 16.1%. Now isn’t that embarrassing?

As for whether Creationism or Intelligent Design is viewed by many reputable scientists as a valid scientific alternate to Evolution, 17.6% overall said they taught that. The states where the most teachers taught it were Arkansas 44%, Texas 37%, Alabama 31% and Louisiana and Maryland both 30%.

The states where the least teachers taught it were Oregon 0%, Virginia 4.0%, Illinois 5.9% and Ohio 6.5%. In New Jersey 18.9% taught that Creationism or Intelligent Design is recognized by many reputable scientists and in Indiana 22.6% taught that.

Now, like all surveys, there are two types of questions here. Some are related to your opinion and some are related to your knowledge of facts. The question as to whether Creationism or Intelligent Design is valid science, asks for an opinion and, apparently, 17.6% of the science teachers in the survey think that it is. Personally, I think they’re wrong but they’re entitled to their opinion.

However, the question about whether many reputable scientists recognize Creationism or Intelligent Design as valid science is really a matter of fact. I don’t know of any reputable scientists that accept Creationism as valid science; there are a handful that appear to accept Intelligent Design as valid science. Therefore when students are taught that “many reputable scientists” recognize Creationism or Intelligent Design as valid science, they are being given false information.

The fact that these are supposedly Science Teachers gives one pause doesn’t it?

Even in states like Massachusetts 15.4%, New York 11.5%, New Jersey 18.9% and California 8.9%, students are being told that “many reputable scientists” view Creationism or Intelligent Design as valid science and this is just flat out not true.

While I may not agree with the articles numbers and categorization, I can’t help but agree with its conclusion that we still have a ways to go here. Winning in the courts is not the same thing as winning on Main Street.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fox News Strikes Again

A survey by Maryland University has revealed the total misinformation that impacted the last election. Basically the Republicans lied and the electorate bought it. Who were the most misinformed? Fox News viewers were by far the most misinformed about national events. And, surprise, surprise, they were always misinformed to the conservative Republican side of the issue.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Republicans lie and Fox News swears to it.

Now guess which folks tended to be the least misinformed? Those who got their news from Public Broadcasting (NPR and PBS). I guess that explains why the Republicans are trying so hard to kill the appropriations for those two organizations.

Let’s get to the numbers shall we.

The Reality: Most economists that have studied the effect of the stimulus package estimate that it has created between 2.0 and 2.5 million jobs.

The Misinformation: 88% of the general public, and 91% of those who watch Fox News, believed the Republican line that it created very few jobs or it actually lost jobs. The least misinformed viewers were MSNBC, "only" 64% got it wrong.

The Reality: The CBO has concluded that the health care reform bill would either not raise the budget deficit or slightly reduce it.

The Misinformation: 53% of the general public, and 72% of those who watch Fox News, believe that economists felt it would increase the budget deficit. The least misinformed viewers were Public Broadcasting, only 40% got it wrong.

The Reality: The U.S. economy began to recover in the 4th quarter of 2009 and has continued to grow since then.

The Misinformation: 55% of the general public, and 72% of those who watch Fox News, believe the economy is still getting worse. The least misinformed viewers were Public Broadcasting, only 34% got it wrong.

The Reality: Since January of 2009 (under the Obama Administration) Federal Income Taxes have gone down.

The Misinformation: 38% of the general public, and 49% of those who watch Fox News, believe that taxes have gone up. The least misinformed viewers were CNN, only 26% got it wrong.

An informed electorate is essential to the proper working of a democracy. Based upon this study, the American electorate just elected members of congress under gross misconceptions of the state of the economy which was cited as the single most important issue.

One more point, although it probably had nothing to do with the elections, The National Academy of Sciences has concluded unambiguously that climate change is occurring. Note that this has nothing to do with whether or not they are right, but simply with what is the scientific view. Well, incredibly, 60% of Fox News viewers believe that either scientists do not believe that climate change is occurring or that scientists are evenly divided.

The list goes on and on. The only conclusion that any intelligent human being can reach is that Fox News is purposely skewing their “news” content. Either that or they’re incredibly incompetent. Either way, we’d all be much better off if people stopped watching them altogether.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mubarak Resigns

Well, let's hear it for the power of the people. Much to my surprise, President Mubarak of Egypt failed to weather the storm and has resigned.

Exactly what happens now is a bit unclear. At the moment the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is in charge but, at least so far, the Army appears committed to civilian rule and an open election of the next president. Of course that could take a while.

Before we begin celebrating a victory for democracy, allow me to make the point that, according to Pew Research, 82% of Egyptian Muslims think it' proper to stone an adulterer to death. You got that one? And considering just about everyone there is Muslim, that's close enough to 82% of the entire population.

Democracy requires an electorate whose heads are not completely up their asses. Democracy could turn into a nightmare in Egypt the same way it's a nightmare in Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Let's not forget that lurking in the background is the Muslim Brotherhood. They may not be Al-Quida but I don't trust them one bit. The world probably got a little more dangerous on Friday but that's not necessarily a bad thing. A true working democracy in Egypt would be a great leap forward for the region and perhaps that possibility makes it all worth while.

What the U.S. needs to do is support the Egyptian's attempt to build a working democracy even if things are a little rough to begin with. I think Obama is smart enough to do that, but I'm not sure of the Republicans in Congress.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Alvin Plantinga’s Free Will Defense

Alvin Plantinga is a philosopher that developed what is known as the “Free Will Defense” to address the Problem of Evil.

The Problem of Evil has been attributed to the Greek philosopher Epicurus and is typically quoted as follows:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? If he is neither able nor willing, then why call him God?”

Plantinga’s summarizes his defense as follows:

“A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but he can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if he does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, he must create creatures capable of moral evil; and he can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so.”

Get it?

It seems that most philosophers accept Plantinga’s argument as resolving the Problem of Evil.

A number of noted philosophers, including Anthony Flew, disagree and have criticized the argument because it assumes what is known as an “incompatibilist view” which postulates that free will and determinism are incompatible. Apparently they hold that “free will” and determinism are compatible.

I don’t buy that one. I have to admit that I consider free will and determinism incompatible so I’m not impressed with that criticism.

So, is the Problem of Evil resolved?

No, for three reasons. First, let’s consider the proposition “A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all.”

What would be more valuable, a world were 51% of the freely performed actions were morally good or a world where 52% of the actions were morally good? What about 52% versus 53%? 53% versus 54%?

Allow me to suggest that the fewer the number of evil actions, the more valuable the world. Given unlimited resources, I could create an environment for people where they may still retain the ability to do evil, but it would be extremely unlikely they would choose to do so because there would be no need.

If I were a God, I think I would also refrain from creating sociopaths or psychopaths who are almost guaranteed to do evil.

Yet God apparently chooses not to do either of these things. Instead we get a world with limited resources. A world in which it is a struggle to simply survive, never mind be happy, and he chooses to create creatures virtually guaranteed to do evil.

Second, let’s consider the question of choosing to do evil versus the ability to execute that choice.

If I knew that someone had kidnapped a child with the intent of torturing and abusing that child and I was capable of taking action to prevent it, you can be damn sure I would prevent it. I think it’s safe to say that 99% of humanity, including those currently locked up for choosing to do evil, would prevent it as well.

The free choice has been made. By allowing the execution of that choice I maintain there is no added value. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God should know about the intended evil action, be capable of stopping the action and desire to stop the action. I suspect convincing the parents of the child that allowing the execution of the freely chosen evil action was more “valuable” would be a long, hard sell.

Third, and by far the most damning objection, is that Plantinga’s argument only accounts for “moral evil,” evil perpetrated by human beings. It does not address “Natural Evil” such as tornados, earthquakes and plagues.

Plantinga’s response to this objection is that it is possible that these things are caused by non-human creatures with free will. In other words, devils and demons and jinns oh my! My immediate reaction upon hearing this idiocy was to simply toss the whole argument into the trash. But that would have been a sort of reverse argument from authority. What is important is what is said, not who said it. Just because the source has some ideas too stupid to be taken seriously (don’t we all?) shouldn’t invalidate everything he says.

So, the bottom line is I’m not impressed. I may not be a philosopher (how does one become a philosopher anyway?) but I have my share of intelligence. Perhaps God could not have created a world with no evil, but he should have been able to do a hell of a lot better than he did.

One other question. If God cannot create a world with no evil, does that mean that there is evil in Heaven? If there is, why is it Heaven? If there isn’t, then Plantinga’s proposition is false isn’t it?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

I keep running into this thing which theists seem to view as the holy grail. Well, you will excuse me but I’m not all that sure.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is a logical argument attempting to demonstrate the existence of God. It is an argument championed by possibly the leading contemporary Christian Apologist Dr. William Lane Craig. The argument, as described by Craig, is as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The Universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

There are a whole host of objections floating around to this argument but note something interesting, even if you accept the argument as valid, it only establishes that the Universe had a cause and not what that cause was nor that the cause, whatever it was, still exists.

The objection I find most entertaining was put forward by Dan Barker. Allow me to paraphrase Barker’s argument.

The premise, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause,” implies that there are two sets of things. Set BE which contains all the things which “Began to Exist” and NBE which contains all of the things which did “Not Begin to Exist.”

Now let’s consider NBE. Where the theist is going with this argument is that NBE consists of only the Primal Cause and that this Primal Cause is God. But if that’s the case, then the first premise becomes indistinguishable from “Everything but God had a cause.” This therefore assumes the existence of God in the premise and makes the argument circular.

There are also objections to the first premise based upon counter examples that appear to exist at the quantum level. Radioactive decay appears to be a random, causeless function. Carbon 14 decays into Carbon 12, but it’s a random occurrence. There is no particular “cause” at the instant it occurs.

Note that I don’t present these objections as demonstrating the invalidity of the Kalam argument, as I’m sure Craig has counter-arguments to the counter-arguments, but simply to point out that it’s not as easy as it might first appear.

Personally I find the whole gist of the argument reeking of fun with semantics. If one considers the Universe the set of all things, then saying the Universe began to exist implies that all things began to exist. But any cause must exist prior to its effect so therefore the Universe is not the set of all things. But if the Universe is not the set of all things, then where are these things that are not part of the Universe?

Clearly the theist implies these things include God, the Angels, Heaven and Hell, but this simply addresses what they are and not where they are. There is also the issue of Time. Time is a element of the Universe. Before the Universe existed the concept of Time is meaningless so how did these things outside the Universe differentiate between events such as the fall of Lucifer and the Creation without having them all occurring simultaneously and ad-infinitum.

I’m also not personally acquainted with everything that “began to exist,” so I can’t make the definitive statement that “Whatever begins to exist had a cause.” Such a statement would require exhaustive knowledge. I don’t have it and neither does Craig.

Words are meant as descriptions of reality but have no reality of their own. They can however be used to describe non-reality. Consider every fantasy story that has ever been written. The Kalam Cosmological Argument strikes a sour note with me. It seems to be just words without any reality behind them. A thought experiment that represents the worst form of philosophy because it is not supported by any foundation beyond the words. It’s all smoke and mirrors, all sound and fury but signifying nothing.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Super Bowl XLV

Ok, so age and treachery didn’t triumph although I was hoping Big Ben could pull it off in the last two minutes there. Three turnovers were just too much to overcome and Rashid’s Mendenhall’s fumble was probably the ultimate turning point.

With the final score 31-25 Packers over the Steelers, I finish up at 8-3 for the NFL play-offs this year. Hey, it could have been worse.

Speaking of things that could have been worse, SB XLV had its share.

Let’s start with the fans that thought they had tickets to the game. Apparently, Jerry “The Hitman” Jones,added some 15,000 temporary seats in his bid for a SB attendance record. Unfortunately some were apparently deemed unsafe and about 1,200 fans showed up at the game only to find they had no seats.

At first the luckless fans weren’t even allowed entry into the stadium but ultimately some 850 got seats. Another 400 were given access to a club area where they could watch on monitors or go to a standing room only section. The NFL has promised to refund three times the $800 face value of the tickets. The problem with that is some of these folks paid as much as $3,000 for the seats and then there are the travel expenses.

Next we learned that Christina Aguilera doesn’t know the words to the Star Spangled Banner. To be honest however, her mangling of the lyrics was the highlight of what I can only call a spectacularly uninspired performance. Man did she suck.

That brings us to the halftime show which had to be one of the worst I can remember. Does the phrase “cardboard cutouts yelling at you” conjure up an image? It was absolutely terrible as well as, given the probable average age of the fans in the stands, terribly age inappropriate. Holding off the second half for that garbage was downright criminal.

Luckily it was a good game and, when all is said and done, that’s what will be remembered. Ok, let’s move on to the draft.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Give me proof…

A not unusual “challenge” that many Creationists put on the table for advocates of Evolution takes the form “show me absolute proof, with 100% certainty, that…” any number of things ranging from how a given biological feature evolved to what existed prior to the Big Bang. Yes, I know the Big Bang is Cosmology and not Evolution but Creationists tend to confuse Evolution, Cosmology, Abiogenesis and atheism with sickening regularity.

There are several fallacies in these “challenges.”

The most obvious is that nothing in the natural world can be proven with 100% certainty. Absolute proof is only possible within the framework of mathematical systems. It is unattainable in the natural world. One can come close to absolute certainty, but the natural world deals in inference and probabilities.

The second fallacy is this that there is somehow something inherently wrong with saying “I don’t know.” If you don’t know, that’s ok. Perhaps someday you will know.

The final fallacy is what is known as a “false dichotomy.” In a false dichotomy questions are presented in an “either-or” manner which assumes only two possibilities. Since there are only two possibilities, if one can be proven FALSE that validates the second as TRUE.

The problem with that approach is that in the natural world there are a multitude of possibilities. Proving evolution wrong does not prove Creationism, or anything else for that matter, right.