Conversations with Atheists 3

Paraphrased for brevity and clarity:

—–

Him: You can’t possibly be so stupid and uneducated as to dismiss the theory of evolution.

Me: Intelligent Design is a theory of evolution.  There are several.

Him: No, there aren’t!

Me: Certainly there are.  Darwinism, Neo-Darwinism, Catastrophism, and Intelligent Design off the top of my head.  I believe that there are at least two more.

Him: I’ve never heard of any of those.  “Intelligent design” is just another word for Christian creationism.

Me: Why would you say that?

Him: Because it’s true!

Me: They are only tangentially related; Intelligent Design theory does not specify a designer.

Him: Please!  Don’t even start with that nonsense.  It’s just Christian creationism.  Look, here’s a book.

Me: Well, that’s not really the cutting edge of Intelligent Design research…  But let’s assume for argument’s sake that you are correct, and Intelligent Design is just another term for Creationism.  Allow me to propose a new field of study, in which cosmology and biology are examined using information theory to see whether evidence can be found for deliberate design in their construction.  Certainly you can agree that that is a legitimate scientific inquiry?

*crickets*

—–

Her:  This is a victory for Separation of Church and State!

Me:  But ‘Separation of Church and State’ refers to the First Amendment keeping the Federal government from dictating the terms of religious practice.  This is actively preventing American citizens from even expressing their religious beliefs, simply because they hold office.  Or serve in the military.  It is the opposite of Separation of Church and State.

Her:  Whatever.  Politicians shouldn’t be able to force their religion on me.

Me:  Well, I certainly agree with that.  But this isn’t a religious issue, it is a legal and epistemological one.  But if we can agree that no one can force their religion upon you, why should you be able to force your atheism on other people?

Her:  Because of Separation of Church and State!

—–

Me: I believe it likely that the Exodus is a mythologization of an historical event.

Him: How many Israelites left Egypt at what time?

Me: This story was written before the invention of science or history, by a culture which valued emotional impact over accuracy in its writings.

Him: How many Israelites left Egypt at what time?

Me:  The information you are asking for is not available.  It’s like the Feeding of the Multitude; the reader is not to expect that someone actually took a census and counted 5,000 men plus women and children.  A first-century Aramaic author would use a number he felt conveyed the appropriate emotional impact of what he saw.

Him:  So, how many Israelites left Egypt at what time?

Me: More than one, at some time between 2,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Him:  That’s a ridiculous answer!

Me: You are asking a ridiculous question.  The conversation cannot move forward as long as you insist on ignoring the cultural and linguistic nature of the work in question.

Him:  I’m not here to have a conversation with you.  I’m here to show you how stupid you are!

—–

UPDATE: Lamarkianism is another theory of evolution.  It was largely considered debunked for a long time, but has minor support from the emerging science of epigenetics.

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2 responses to “Conversations with Atheists 3

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