Atheistic Materialism-Flee from the Truth at all Costs

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).

Over at Uncommon Descent, there have been some interesting discussions about a) atheism and morality1,2 and b) physicalism.3,4 What you will find with almost all atheists is a retreat from materialism where it undermines 1) morality, and 2) rationality or freedom to evaluate evidence in a non-deterministic way. Often the retreat is accomplished by pseudo-spiritual methods (e.g., appeals to quantum mechanics, Buddhism, humanism, nature worship, or just by simply stating “I don’t believe that beliefs are fully physically determined”).  In other words, they want materialism in all ways that allow them to deny God’s existence, but reject it in the areas in which it undermines their credibility.  None of this is terribly surprising.  Were they to examine these issues in a logically consistent manner, they might have to question their atheism.  Belief in God is often very threatening to many atheists in part because of problems with commitment and difficulty yielding to authority.

All of the posts below were written by Barry Arrington.

1. Bleak Conclusions

2. Materialist Concede that Holocaust was Permitted if Materialism is True

3. Materialist Poofery

4. Emergence Redux

Idiocricy, Political Correctness, Darwinism, and Eugenics

The Outsider (DB), has an excellent post on these matters.

“Idiocricy:” A Bad Comedy or Covert Eugenics (Genetics) Propaganda?

Atheists are 'good' people.

Psychology Today has a hit job on religious beliefs, which is not surprising given their love for Darwin and all things atheistic.(1)

Despite a widespread perception that religious people should behave more ethically in general, researchers find little evidence that religious people either think or behave more ethically (1). One study, found that atheists were significantly less likely than religious students to cheat on an exam (2).

Psychologists find that religious belief stunts moral development, because it commits people to a dogma, or formula, rather than working out ethical solutions for themselves (the highest stage of moral development known as post-conventional morality).

Fundamentalist religions may undermine moral reasoning. People who “know” that they are saved, may be relatively unconcerned about who is hurt by their actions in this world. A Roper survey found that after being “born again,” people are more likely to drive drunk, use illegal drugs, and engage in illicit sex (3).

I’m not much on comparing people morally, because the Bible teaches that the notion of a good person is a myth. However, one must consider the agenda of the atheist writing this article on Psychology Today. Yes, I make that prediction even though the author did not state his position on God. The author engages in cherry picking–picking out only that research which supports his position. He did not even consider that governmental systems based on atheist philosophy have resulted in the most catastrophic loss of human life in history.(2)

What the author is trying to do is to say that religious folk are psychologically immature and don’t know how to engage in moral reasoning, whereas, atheists are more developed, psychologically and intellectually. I’ll just briefly include some research that is counter to the claims of Dr. Barber:

1). Religious beliefs is associated with lower levels of delinquency and drug/alcohol use in adolescents
2). Religious beliefs are associated with increased self-control. This is a comprehensive review article on decades of research. Other notable findings included are that religious beliefs result in increased lifespan (25-30%), less likely to use drugs/alcohol at all ages and engage in more health promoting behavior, have higher levels of psychological well-being, more likely to stay married and be more satisfied with the marital relationship, and is associated with higher grade point averages.

Does this sound like psychological immaturity or stunted moral development? Not in the least. Here’s to hoping that Dr. Barber will do a little more homework the next time he decides to write a hit job on religion.

References:
(1). Are religious people more ethical in their conduct? Psychology Today, N. Barber, 4/09
(2). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism

More Complex than Previously Thought-Part VII – The Retina

If you have ever taken a class in sensation and perception, you would have some notions about the astonishing complexity of the eye and perceptual processes.  Scientists had previously looked at an aspect of the retina as indicating flaws that potentially posed problems for high resolution vision.(1,2)

However, things were more complex than was previously thought:

In the April 7 issue of the journal PLOS Biology, the scientists say their findings suggest that the nervous system operates with higher precision than previously appreciated and that apparent irregularities in individual cells may actually be coordinated and finely tuned to make the most of the world around us.

Previously, the observed irregularities of individual receptive fields suggested that the collective visual coverage might be uneven and irregular, potentially posing a problem for high-resolution vision. “The striking coordination we found when we examined a whole population indicated that neuronal circuits in the retina may sample the visual scene with high precision, perhaps in a manner that approaches the optimum for high-resolution vision,” says senior author E.J. Chichilnisky, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratories. Continue reading

Science, ID, and Darwinism

In an experiment, there are one of more hypotheses. When positive predictions are made, there necessarily exists what is called a null hypothesis. The null hypothesis should be stated formally, and constructed before the study is conducted.

H0: Two simultaneous mutations are the upper limit for providing any functional advantage by evolutionary processes.
H1: Evolutionary processes may result in three or more simultaneous mutations conferring a functional advantage to an organism.

In the example above, H0 is the null hypothesis, and H1 is the experimental hypothesis. When an experiment is conducted, a finding of 3 or more simultaneous mutations resulting in a functional advantage would be said to falsify the null hypothesis.

The final writeup would go something like, “Our experiments demonstrated that 3 simultaneous mutations occurred resulting in a functional advantage for the organism. Therefore, we reject H0 in favor of H1.” The trouble in evolutionary biology is that there often is no H0. There is no formal null hypothesis. Evolution is considered to be a fact, and the null hypothesis is not addressed or tested.

Consider a recent peer-reviewed article that provides a null hypothesis that has not been falsified by Darwinist researchers: Continue reading

Darwinists Discover the Experimental Method

For some time now, I’ve been trying to drive the point home that Darwinists employ methods that are insufficient to support their conclusions.  Their theories have many causal predictions (e.g., random mutation + natural selection causes new species or rm+ns results in new complex functions/information).  In science, when your theory makes causal statements, you are limited to the experimental method in order to test the prediction.  Some supportive information can be gleaned from correlational studies (i.e., how much one variable is associated with another), but the theory is not truly tested unless an experimental design is utilized.  The experimental method is used extremely rarely in evolutionary research.

This brings us to the reason for my post.  A recent study found that a statistical method used in many studies of natural selection is invalid.

Scientists at Penn State and the National Institute of Genetics in Japan have demonstrated that several statistical methods commonly used by biologists to detect natural selection at the molecular level tend to produce incorrect results. “Our finding means that hundreds of published studies on natural selection may have drawn incorrect conclusions,” said Masatoshi Nei, Penn State Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and the team’s leader.

Of course, nearly all of these hundreds of potentially invalid studies do not employ the experimental method, but simply use statistical analyses of DNA/gene sequences and so forth. And from this, they often draw causal conclusions (RM+NS resulted in this new function). However, it was found that the statistical methods were incorrect in their predictions.

In real fields of science, the experimental method is performed routinely. In psychology, the experimental method is practiced very often. Not so with evolutionary biology. The reason given in this press release was:

Nei said that to obtain a more realistic picture of natural selection, biologists should pair experimental data with their statistical data whenever possible. Scientists usually do not use experimental data because such experiments can be difficult to conduct and because they are very time-consuming.

Yes, real science is difficult to conduct and is time consuming, but I submit to you that it would be worth it to have properly designed, and properly conducted research. I think an interesting statistic would be to determine how much money has been wasted on improperly conducted research by evolutionary biologists.  I’m not saying that correlational research is not science, but it’s not science to make causal inferences from methods that do not support causal inferences.  Even by using the experimental method, the best you can hope for is a reduction in bias.  Bias is nearly impossible to eliminate from studies, because studies are conducted by scientists (i.e., biased human beings).

Here is the take home message for Darwinists:

1). When you make causal predictions and wish to draw causal inferences, you must use the experimental method.

2). If you are not going to use the experimental method, but a correlational method, your conclusion must not go beyond the method you are using (e.g., this caused that). The best you can say is: this is related to that or this is associated with that.

3). Imagination is not an experimental or even scientific method.

4). If you use statistical methods to make predictions, the methods must first be validated. Otherwise your predictions are of unknown validity.

Reference

(1). Hundreds of Natural Selection Studies could be Wrong, Study Says

Original Source: Reliabilities of identifying positive selection by the branch-site and the site-prediction methods

Earlier than Expected: Galaxy Formation

I had intended to focus this series on fossil finds that were attributed to time periods that were earlier than previously expected, but now realize that the series needs to include a broader range of phenomena to encompass other findings that fall under the heading of gradualism and uniformitarianism. As an example, we find galaxies that are purported to have formed much earlier than previously expected.(1)

Researchers using the Subaru telescope in Hawaii have identified five distant galaxy clusters that formed five billion years after the Big Bang. They calculated the mass of the biggest galaxy in each of the clusters and found, to their surprise, that the ancient galaxies were roughly as big as the biggest galaxies in equivalent clusters in today’s Universe.

The ancient galaxies should have been much smaller, at only a fifth of today’s mass, based on galaxy-formation models that predict slow, protracted growth. “That was the reason for the surprise — that it disagrees so radically with what the predictions told us we should be seeing,” says Chris Collins of Liverpool John Moores University in Birkenhead, UK. Collins and his colleagues publish the work today in Nature.

The uniformitarian models had predicted that the galaxies would only be 20% of the observed size, yet the galaxies were found to be roughly as big as the biggest galaxies known to exist today. It seems like there may have been a bunny fossil found in the cosmological Cambrian period, but lets see how they’ll wiggle their way out of this one.

The work suggests that an earlier modelling result may have correctly posited a mechanism — a cold stream of star-nourishing hydrogen gas — by which these first massive galaxies grew so rapaciously. Taken together, the two results suggest that early galaxies grew quickly through injections of gas, rather than slowly through mergers. “We have a whole different story now about how galaxies form,” says Avishai Dekel of the Hebrew University in Israel and first author of the earlier paper.

How did they do? I’d say they did a good job of using their imagination (a gas injection from the imagination), but I don’t think they did so well in saving a uniformitarian model of galaxy formation. They at least make a prediction that could be discomfirmed/confirmed through future observation. In other words, they might be able to actually see the cold gas streams. I’ve got my fingers crossed. The point is, the time period for galaxy formation has also been reduced making things more complicated for uniformitarian models.

(1). Early galaxies surprise with size, Nature News, April 1, 2009