Tuesday, December 25, 2018

IDHEFTBAA - Chapter 3 - Rebuttal (part 1)

Geisler and Turek now start to move away from philosophical arguments, into arguments that have co-opted science and/or scientists to the Christian fundamentalist cause.

Thus begins their chapter 3, which is titled "In The Beginning There Was A Great SURGE", and the reason surge is in capital letters is because it is an acronym for a 5-fold argument that they hope to explain that the universe had a beginning, and that God is the only possibility for that beginning.


And thus begins my rebuttal which will focus on two points:


1) The co-opting of Albert Einstein to the Christian cause.


2) How Einstein came to see The Truth
.


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1) The co-opting of Albert Einstein to the Christian cause.


The leading quote for this chapter comes from no less than Albert Einstein:

Science without religion is blind. Religion without science is lame.
And already, I see a problem - when Einstein says the word 'religion', he was in no way referring to the Christian religion. Throughout Einstein's lifetime, he complained that his quotes and views on religion have been co-opted to either make him seem like a devoted Christian, or at the very least make him incredibly sympathetic to the cause.
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

So for Geisler and Turek to take a quote that could equally apply to any religion, from a man who adhered to no organised religion, and then polish it and shine it up so that it props up their religion is incredibly disingenuous to say the least!
But again, what is truth and adherence to the facts when there are atheist strawmen to be burnt down?

The only way in which Einstein could even be imagined to be supportive of Christianity lies in two facts:

One, he was raised Jewish and went to a Catholic high school, and two, he wasn't antagonistic towards Christianity in the same way Richard Dawkins is.

And that is it! He grew up around Christianity and didn't explicitly hate it or attack it, therefore every time he mentions religion, he is obviously speaking about Jesus THE KING 0F KINGS AND LORD 0F LORDS AMEN!!!


Give me a break...


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2) How Einstein came to see The Truth
.


[Before I expand on this, there is a reason why I cheekily use the Trademark symbol alongside Truth with a capital T - Christian apologists have a bad habit of thinking they have the truth The Truth simply because their book tells them they have The Truth - no need to rely on evidence, but feel free to ride the coat-tails of science when science backs up conclusions they're comfortable with].


The next part of Geisler & Turek's co-opting of Einstein comes in a story of how Einstein came to see that the universe is indeed expanding.


To tell this, they recount the story of how Einstein was uncomfortable with the implications of his Theory of General Relativity, so he introduced what is described as a 'fudge factor' to cancel out the effects of gravity that would lead to either an expanding or contracting universe. The driving force behind this was the idea that the universe has been, and should be, in a steady-state.


Then into the story comes Alexander Friedmann who exposed some errors in Einstein's calculation. Geisler and Turek here take a cheap-shot at Einstein by writing:

By 1922, Russian mathematician Alexander Friedmann had officially exposed Einstein's fudge factor as an algebraic error. (Incredibly, in his quest to avoid a beginning, the great Einstein had divided by zero - something even school children know is a no-no!)
[As an aside, is this is how Christian apologetics is done in the modern era? Make snide remarks about a person who has contributed more to society in half of one lifetime than what most people will do in five lifetimes, including these two authors? Well done, guys.]

But au contraire, again, Geisler and Turek don't give you all of the story or all of the facts, something I suspect I will see much more of in this book. That's OK - allow me to explain a bit.


It simply isn't the case that Einstein put a zero in his equation because he was looking God in the face and he had to turn away - the way Freidmann showed that Einstein put a zero in the Theory of General Relativity was by using a hyper-specific instance of Einstein's Theory that ended up making of the one denominator's equal to zero. Simple as that.


Friedmann then demonstrably showed that Einstein had things wrong, to which Einstein is reported to have said:

It was the biggest blunder of my life.
And again, this is the beauty of science. You prove someone wrong, you make history!

But again, Geisler and Turek don't give you the complete story - there are some scientists who believe Einstein's fudge factor may have been correct all along. Space.com have an article from November 2010 stating as such.


The rest of the anecdote regarding Einstein shows that he went to the Mount Wilson Observatory in California and used the massive telescope they had there to indeed see first-hand the red shift, which indicates that intergalactic objects and bodies are moving away from our vantage point on Earth, indicating that they are all moving away from a common point.


They're all moving away from a common point? Well, that must mean that the universe had a beginning! And the Bible says that God made everything, which means the universe had a beginning! Therefore, Einstein discovered The Truth! Hallelujah! Amen! Praise God!!!


But everything we see in this anecdote from Geisler & Turek highlights exactly what is wrong with religion, in particular Christianity, and everything that is right about science and the scientific method:


For Einstein to see that he was wrong, all someone had to do was show him how he was wrong. And someone did exactly that. No reliance on inerrant scripture. No referencing sermons or preachers or proto-orthodox church fathers or long-dead theologians (or even currently living theologians). Someone went out, did the maths, came back and showed Einstein was wrong, Einstein admitted he made a mistake with the maths, then he went to an astronomy lab and saw for himself, seeing the evidence first-hand, that he had made a mistake in his working model.

Einstein then went and changed his believe in accordance with the evidence.

And this is exactly how science works - someone observes a phenomena, creates a hypothesis, gathers data, determines a method of testing that hypothesis against the data, checks the results, writes up a report, shares that report with other experts in their field who then discuss and criticise it, but the process doesn't stop there - if someone has a better idea than you, a contradictory idea, a competing idea, revised working of your idea, or a better method, or anything of that sort, then they can prove you wrong - and if you prove someone wrong, you get credit and prizes (Nobel, anyone?).


Christianity has nothing like this! In Christianity, the more fundamental you are, the less likely you are to accept that there are even any mistakes in the Bible, let alone fundamental errors, and that is because to fundamentalists, the Bible is God, God is the Bible, and neither could ever be wrong about anything.

This is exactly the point of Creation groups like Answers In Genesis, whose own Statement Of Faith confirms that they will not accept any evidence, from any field of science, if it makes the Bible look bad.

Furthermore, in Christianity, if you doubt something is wrong, it's YOU who has the problem - not the church, not the church leadership, not the Bible, not God, not nothing, and I know this from first-hand experience!


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Until next time, keep having a merry Christmas, a happy new year, and work hard for your dreams!


-Damien

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