Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Silly Arguments from Tim Schaertel at Apologia

My little friend I mentioned a few months ago ragequit his blog a few months back, pulling down the last entry, deleting all comments, and replacing it with a stunningly hypocritical rant about how his pearls of wisdom are wasted upon infidel swine like myself. It’s always a good sign when they go for the ad hominem, as Hitchens once said.

But I knew he couldn’t stay away, and after a couple of months to pout, he’s back with another childlike attempt at argumentation, this time claiming that “Self Awareness Proves the Existence of God.”

"To know for a certainty that God exists, there are many roads we can explore to show beyond a shadow of a doubt there is an intelligent Designer behind all creation. One road we can travel is the road of Self Awareness."

At this point I was scratching my head. What does self-awareness have to do with the price of tea in China? Not to worry though, he wanders off this topic almost immediately after the profound deepity of “I am not eternal, and therefore I cannot be God.” I’m not sure how this proves the existence of God, but it’s the only thing he talks about related to any awareness of self, so I’m sure it must be there somewhere. Really what this relaunched screed is about is one more stab at some sort of cosmological argument.

“All things created had a beginning, even our universe itself. Science does not dispute this.” (Actually it does. Not only are there many different explanations for the facts being researched, the very definition of the word “beginning” in this context is very far afield from the colloquial notion of it. “What came before the big bang” is semantically equivalent to “what is north of the north pole.”)

“There are those who say the universe is infinite, and it goes through different phases where it expands and then collapses, then expands again, carrying on this cycle for eternity.”

“Physicists to this day cannot explain the "Atomic Glue" that holds the universe together, except that there seems to be an outside force that maintains the order we find in the construct of space and time.”

All of which go to the point not that God necessarily exists, but that Schaertel has never actually read a physics book. Nor does he have any particular knowledge of science that hasn’t already been consumed, digested, and excreted by whatever know-nothing apologists he parrots. To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, “a religious man's report of what a scientist says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

There is a point here, which can easily be seen as Schaertel continues, insisting that “we must recognize there are only three explanations for our existence.” Apparently that either we are infinite, we are self-created, or God did it. I can’t possibly make it any plainer that Schaertel is not approaching this question from an intellectually honest position.

The goal of the apologist, unlike the scientist, is not to seek, investigate, and obtain knowledge about reality. It is to assert a preferred truth, and then argue back around to the presupposed conclusion. The reason a religious person cannot understand science is because any understanding takes the form of a caricature that can be disbelieved. The reason Schaertel stacks “God did it” up against two transparently silly alternatives is because he’s simply asserting a forgone conclusion. It’s almost not necessary to point out that he’s left out other possibilities, namely every cosmological theory currently being researched by legitimate scientists. And there’s another protip that has to be said—when a scientist says “we don’t know,” the religious man doesn’t get to say “Ha! I win!” “We don’t know” means “we’re working on it,” and to skip to “God did it” as an explanation isn’t just dishonest, it is useless. It is the opposite of inquiry, the negation of further knowledge, the abandonment of reason.

In the end, Schaertel insists that this all has something to do with self-awareness, but it’s not particularly clear how. He quotes a few bits of Genesis, as though anyone should care, or believe that some magic man in the sky who maybe, maybe, created the universe has any reason to care about the foibles and peccadilloes of a bunch of shaved apes on an insignificant mote in a mediocre corner of the cosmos.

My point is this: this is not the argument that convinced Schaertel that a god exists. It’s not what pushed him to Christianity. Rather, he was born and raised into both, and doesn’t have intellectually honest reasons for believing. The reason he blogs is not to convince or witness to others, but to provide excuse after excuse to himself and others who already believe. His chief tools in this enterprise are ignorance and unreason, both of which he flaunts without the slightest trace of, in a word, self awareness.