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God, Life, origins

Atheists and Twitter (again again)

So I went onto my twitter feed a few hours after having a brief “discussion” with some atheists.  I will admit I didn’t follow my own rules and only respond to one on one comments (mostly because I’m a glutton for punishment I suppose).  One of the folks (Xeno) pointed out a mistake I made in that I said that “Literally no one says 20 million.”  I do concede that this is technically wrong.  He attempted to prove this by asking people around him how many animals were on the ark.  He said one guy said millions.  I could be petty and point out that the guy didn’t say 20 million so he hadn’t refuted my point but I won’t do that.  I could also point out that in context I was clearly talking about creationists (I don’t know that he ever asked this person if he was and as he didn’t say he did, I suspect he didn’t).  But even so, what I said is technically wrong.  Atheists say it all the time.  Mostly because they much prefer beating on straw man arguments than actual positions.

So I noticed there were several dozen posts in my notifications and when I looked through them, by and large they are just insults.  Insults directed at me.  Insults directed at Answers in Genesis.  Insults directed at Christians in general.  It was, however, very light on actual arguments (unless you mean the fallacious, ad hominem type).  I was even told by someone that if the ad hominem wasn’t directed directly at me, then it wasn’t ad hominem.  That’s not how it works.

nhtw

If you are dismissing anyone’s argument because they are “stupid” (or any other personal attack) then it is ad hominem.

There was one person who did try to provide an actual argument (I guess we get one a day).  It was someone who went by the name of Tracey and she, rather condescendingly pointed to Dr. Craig Venter.  He became very famous a few years back because (and you have to only read headlines to believe this) “created life in the lab.”  In fact he himself said that “we didn’t create life from scratch.” (http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/21/venter.qa/)

What he did, and this is pretty impressive, is (and this is a very high level view) he used the alphabet that makes up DNA to create his own genome.  He then took that genome and inserted it into a pre-existing cell.  The cell began working using this new set of instructions (or software).

Not to take away from this accomplishment but he did not create life.  First, he didn’t create the alphabet, or even the language that the cell would understand.  He didn’t come up with a mechanism for the cell to interpret his code.  That was all pre-existing.  What he did is similar if I were to write a new operating system for my computer.  I could do that (maybe, I’ve never written that type of program before).  I could create a routine that would allow the computer to access the DVD drive or allocate memory.  What I wouldn’t be creating is how the processor evaluates the instructions, the processor itself, the memory, the bus, any of that.  I wouldn’t have created a computer.  Without a computer my code would be useless.

It’s impressive work (just like writing a good OS) but it isn’t quite creating life.  What he did was engineer a set of instructions for the cell to use.  This did change the cell.  But the important part to get in that is he engineered it.  There was nothing random about what he did, so even the genome he created doesn’t support the idea that it could happen by chance.  Again, it’s impressive work and I’m glad he did it.  But if falls short of Tracey’s claim (in fact he doesn’t even call it that).

I’m again going to try to follow the, discuss things one on one.  The multi-threaded insult fest is not only useless it’s childish and beneath the people doing it.  Think about it this way if you are one of those people.  You feel you have superior knowledge.  You feel you should share that superior knowledge with others (why else would you spend your time discussing it on twitter?).  However you feel the best way to share that knowledge, if people don’t immediately fall at your feet and tell you how much smarter you are for knowing what they don’t is to insult them.  Does that ever work?  I doubt it.  Perhaps I expect too much of people.

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