Monday, October 8, 2012

Skeptic Ink

My new blog address is:

http://skepticink.com/humesapprentice/

Below there are some links to my old blog. If you change the web address from "skepticblogs" to "skepticink" that should take you to the right place.
-Ryan

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Outroduction

Hi there,


If you're looking at this blog, odds are you want to know about the counter-arguments to the creationist organization Answers in Genesis. My article Ten Falsehoods will fill you in on the basics, and I have a list of more useful blog posts that you can find here. If you are the more philosophical type of reader, I have authored a conclusive refutation of Answers in Genesis' presuppositional apologetics.

What else? I've also documented the dishonesty of William Lane Craig and the plagiarism (you read correctly) of Ray Comfort (also known as "The Banana Man").

I have authored three books:
Extraordinary Claims, Extraordinary Evidence and the Resurrection of Jesus.
Selected Essays.
Atheism and Naturalism.


I have stopped posting at this blog because I created a new one called Hume's Apprentice.

Well, that's about it, have fun in the archives.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Moved to SkepticBlogs!

In case you didn't see my last post, this blog is dead and I will now be blogging on Skepticink.com as "Hume's Apprentice."

Update your bookmarks. You will like it there. One of my posts, Of Miracles, got a shout-out from Jerry Coyne (author of Why Evolution is True). Other fun posts include:

Stephen Hawking is Wrong! (And so is Jason Rosenhouse)

Philosophical Zombies R Coming to Eat Ur Brainz!!

How To Get Hot Sex At An Atheist Meeting

See you there!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Phoenix Rises

I have now launched Hume's Apprentice, my new blog, on Skeptic Ink. The theme of the blog is a skeptical take on philosophy, as well as related issues like politics and society in general. It takes its name from the great skeptic philosopher David Hume.
I already have two posts up, I am very proud of them:

Of Miracles - My take on what kind of evidence it takes to believe a miracle has happened. While my arguments may not be identical to Hume's, they are very much inspired by his philosophy.
Verificationism!! - In which I defend a violently controversial and shocking proposal of the 1920's and 30's that statements which do not represent experiences mean nothing; they are literally gibberish.
After you've had a look at the site, I need you to do something for me. Post a link to Skepticink.com on your facebook page and in your favorite online forum. This will advance the cause of the freethought movement and you'll be given mad props by your other atheist friends for turning them on to such a cool site.

See you on SkepticBlogs!

Monday, August 13, 2012

From the Ashes of the Phoenix

This blog is dead. I will only make one more farewell post, and then it is over and done with.

However, there is an exciting new project that I will be delivering very soon.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Trust William Lane Craig

Recently there has been a discussion between Chris Hallquist and Jeffrey Jay Lowder over whether the Christian apologist William Lane Craig is dishonest (Hallquist's most recent blog post provides the relevant links and backround info to this discussion). Although I agree with Lowder's sentiment that we ought to be very cautious about indicting another person's character, I think that there does come a point in which it is unreasonable to continue to give another person the benefit of the doubt, and on that note, I'd like to share a few things that are relevant to William Lane Craig's honesty.

Example #1 Inconsistency About How One Discredits an Argument

On Craig's reasonable faith website, he makes the following claim:

"In order to show that an argument is no good, it is not enough for the sceptic to show that it’s possible that a premiss is false. Possibilities come cheap. I’m puzzled that so many laymen seem to think that merely stating another possibility is sufficient to defeat a premiss."

In Craig's 1991 article “Theism and Big Bang Cosmology” Australasian Journal of Philosophy69: 498, Craig gives the following response to one of Quentin Smith's arguments for the nonexistence of God:

“If such a metaphysical interpretation of the initial singularity is even possible, then [Premise 5] is unsubstantiated, and Smith’s anti-theistic argument is undercut.” [empahasis added. Note: I believe I've heard Craig making statements like this elsewhere, but I don't recall where. Please comment if you know.]

Conclusion: Craig believes that showing a premise is possibly false destroys an argument against god, but that showing a premise is possibaly false does not destroy an argument for god. This is biased, self-contradictory special pleading.


Example #2 Self-Contradiction Concerning Richard Dawkins' Argument

Richard Dawkins has previously objected to using God to explain the fine-tuning problem on the grounds that God would be even more improbable, even more in need of an explanation, than the fine-tuning itself. Craig responds to this: "in order to recognize an explanation is the best, you don't have to have an explanation for the explanation" (see this video, about 1:00-1:30).

However, when debating atheist philosopher Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, look at how Craig responds to Sinnott-Armstrong after he brings up the objection to the fine-tuning argument that some of the anthropic coincidences might be explained by "tracker fields":

"[Robin] Collins points out that 'even if such fields were discovered, it would have to have just the right ("fine-tuned" or "well-designed") mathematical form to overcome the severe problems facing such proposals. This would reintroduce the problem of fine-tuning and design at a different level, though in a mitigated way.' This has been the pattern with attempts to explain fine-tuning by physical law: Like a stubborn bump in the carpet, fine-tuning is suppressed at one point only to pop up at another." (pp.63-64, William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, God?: A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist)

Conclusion: Why doesn't Craig see that positing a God to explain the fine-tuning is just as much like supressing a stubborn bump in the carpet as positing a tracker field? This is special pleading of the worst kind.


Example #3 Misleading Use of Statistics

In his debate with Paul Draper, Draper cited evolution as evidence against the existence of God (see Jeff Lowder's summary of the argument here). Craig objected to this by saying that evolution is so ulikely that had happened it would be a miracle, hence demonstrating the existence of God. To prove his point, Craig cited a statistic from John Barrow and Frank Tipler. I think Richard Carrier's summary of this quotation and its use is sufficient to show how far off base Craig's criticism is:

"In The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford, 1986), John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler exhaust over 600 pages trying to prove their point, yet a single sentence is sufficient to destroy their whole project: 'The odds against assembling the human genome spontaneously,' argue the authors, 'is even more enormous: the probability of assembling it is between (4^180)^110,000...and (4^360)^110,000....These numbers give some feel for the unlikelihood of the species Homo sapiens' (p. 565). They fail to realize that this is a non sequitur, as already noted by Sagan, for it only establishes such an unlikelihood if we assume, borrowing from their own words "spontaneous assembly." But no one has ever claimed this of the human genome, and the facts establishing evolution demonstrate that this absolutely did not happen. Thus, like Foster and Hoyle, Barrow and Tipler completely ignore the fact of evolution and the role of natural selection in their calculation, and consequently their statistic (which has already been cited by Craig in a debate with Draper) has absolutely no relevance to the real question of whether man evolving is improbable."

How can Craig, trained as a philosopher, not have realized how bogus and misleading his use of this statistic was?

Verdict: Though I have found countless errors, fallacies, and dishonest tactics in Craig's writings and debate performances, I believe these three ought to be sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Craig is dishonest. Though I firmly believe in giving the benefit of the doubt to others and to be cautious about indicting the character of another person, it seems to me that we would be going too far towards leniency if we allowed Craig to get off the hook after seeing this. At some point it becomes unreasonable to continue giving the benefit of the doubt or entertain alternative hypotheses to dishonesty, especially when this sort of thing happens on more than one occasion. Is Craig dishonest? My answer is an unabashed and firm 'Yes.' You can't fool me anymore, Mr. Craig, and with the power of the internet you will slowly lose the ability to fool any one else, either.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Opening For Guest Posts

I'd like to make available the opportunity for other people to post on this blog. Here's what you have to do: write an article about creationism, Christianity, or debunking some creationist argument (whatever you want pretty much, I'm not being strict here), and send it to me with the word AIGBUSTED as the title. Include whatver information you want (at least a nickname) and the title of your blog or website (if you have one, but if you don't, that's ok too). The deadline is ten days from now (August 1st). I will post your articles at my discretion. Can't wait to hear from you guys!