I’ve written about this before, but today I’m taking a slightly different approach. Firstly I’ll present the brief version of my argument, followed by my reasons for approaching it this way.
Yesterday somebody trolled a popular local atheist Facebook group with the usual bullshit… He presented a misunderstanding of science that proposes the universe and all life came about as it is now, purely by chance. Then asked, “What are the chances of this?”
Since I can’t remember the exact words of my answer and I’m too lazy to look now, here is the paraphrased version: Straw men are great because they’re easy to burn. Let’s assume for a moment that all science is wrong. Throw out the Big Bang Theory and throw out evolution. What then? (I’ll tell you…) Then, what we have is the big ol’ scary unknown. (Cue the scary music and “da da daaa”.) And you know what? Even then, it still doesn’t make sense to think creation by god is the answer. When you remove science, god is still just a magical, ready-made explanation for the unknown. To think otherwise, is to start with the assumption that god exists, because you think you know he does as I wrote last time, and then thanks to your belief bias, you work backwards from your foregone conclusion and look for reasons to reach it. Not only is that simply begging the question, but it is also a false dichotomy to think that creation is the only alternative to science.
And that’s as much detail I’m interested in writing of my argument today. I’m more interested in why. As I’ve observed in every such discussion, the subject of the discussion is then the misunderstood science as posed by the creationist. I can understand why… It is the subject of his post of course, and he didn’t even mention god. But that’s only because of the assumption he made that if some aspect of science that he didn’t understand is not true, god is the answer.
And here’s what always happens: Several people who know science post loads of detail, enough to give the person a reasonable understanding of that portion of science. And for what? Tomorrow he will return with another straw man, a god of another gap.
I call this kind of approach (from the atheists) defending the straw man. You’re missing the point if you do that. I am not willing to debate science with creationists. Science has gaps. It’s not like science is finished yet. Nor is it like science has anything to do with god. The point here is their underlying thinking, that refuting some aspect of science, that they believe is wrong, leaves god as the only alternative. You need to realize is that defending the straw man is a waste of time. They are not bound by honesty. I’ve even read arguments by creationists who know a fair amount of science, writing pseudo-scientific papers filled with scientific jargon, refuting speciation. But the pattern is always the same: Refute the straw man and claim victory. Meanwhile in reality, the subject of their claim that god exists is not even addressed.
Don’t fall for such arguments that avoid the issue. Expose the belief bias, the circular reasoning and the false dichotomy, and ask directly how the creationist gets from “I don’t know” to god. It’s not about winning the debate. Nine times out of ten, both parties who debated will think they won, and nearly everybody who observed will leave with the same beliefs they started with. But if you expose that their “logic” isn’t logical at all, you might reach an impartial or thinking observer.
Fuck it… I should really avoid such FB arguments. Now someone is claiming that my argument is a straw man because the OP didn’t state his position. I don’t care that he didn’t. Even if he meant something else, my point still stands. Refuting one thing does not mean your preferred hypothesis is true. (Especially if you refute a straw man.) You still need to provide evidence.
This is a frequently posed generic argument for intelligent design. It’s also a classic bait and switch. Don’t state your position but invite those who oppose you to defend the straw man. Then if anyone goes after the implied “conclusion”, you can change your position, since it wasn’t stated.
This again reminds me of the dishonesty of such creationists. Why post a loaded question about science being wrong to an atheist group if you don’t mean to imply that science is wrong “because god”? I have personally seen such “arguments” posted hundreds of times, and this is no exaggeration. By making the post only about the straw man of science, they assume their own position, whatever it may be, is made stronger. Comment and explain how science really works, and you’ll just get another straw man of some other science tomorrow. Comment about the assumptions being made, and they change to bait and switch. It’s a win-win for them, in their small minds. Just another reason not to debate creationists.