March 14, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Secular Evolution Drives Smart People Insane

It’s hard to say this delicately, but if left-leaning evolutionists really believe these things, they are certifiably wacko.

You know something is nutty when it cannot possibly be true. Any statement that is self-refuting, for instance, is forever false by simple logic. No amount of evidence or argument can change that. Another example is believing contradictory things. Paranoid delusions are a third example of insanity. Finally, rabid hate is a clue something is mentally off. In the following news reports, we won’t claim the believers are stupid; they are obviously not, and some have PhDs. But look at the claims and decide for yourself whether they can hold up to logic or sound evidence.

Episode 1: The Matrix

Do Brexit and Trump show that we’re living in a computer simulation? (The Conversation). Michael Frazer lists himself as a “Lecturer in Political and Social Theory, University of East Anglia.” In this piece on the popular science dialogue website, he is so incredulous over Trump’s victory and the Brexit vote, he appears to have lost his rational coherence. To him, this is evidence the universe is not real, but a simulation being run by space aliens. He even thinks he knows their moral sense:

Recent political events have turned the world upside down. The UK voting for Brexit and the US electing Donald Trump as president were unthinkable 18 months ago. In fact, they’re so extraordinary that some have questioned whether they might not be an indication that we’re actually living in some kind of computer simulation or alien experiment.

These unexpected events could be experiments to see how our political systems cope under stress. Or they could be cruel jokes made at our expense by our alien zookeepers. Or maybe they’re just glitches in the system that were never meant to happen. Perhaps the recent mix-up at the Oscars or the unlikely victories of Leicester City in the English Premier League or the New England Patriots in the Superbowl are similar glitches.

The problem with using these difficult political events as evidence that our world is a simulation is how unethical such a scenario would be. If there really were a robot or alien power that was intelligent enough to control all our lives in this way, there’s a good chance they’d have developed the moral sense not to do so.

Could he possibly know any of this? Some might defend Frazer on the grounds that he is only exploring possibilities. But he could save himself a lot of work by recognizing that the whole idea of arguing for a simulation is self-refuting. If we’re in a simulation, everything is determined. The program would be making him write his opinion on The Conversation. Why not save a step and become a solipsist? The aliens might have his brain in a vat, with electrodes controlling everything he thinks is happening. Reality is unreal. The only way Frazer could step outside of the trap would be to takeon the Yoda Complex, a form of mental self-delusion. It appears that his own left-leaning proclivities are driving him mad at the “unthinkable” political outcomes of recent days. Why are they so unthinkable? Why are they stressful? Why are they a cruel joke? These are marks of a disturbed mind, perhaps a mind accustomed to living in an echo chamber and having to step outside for the first time.

Episode II: Intelligent Design is Pseudoscience, but Scientifically Useful

By anyone’s estimation, the Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, PhD, is a smart guy. He’s also willing to think outside the box— which is good (see Evolution News 11/04/16, for Loeb’s thoughtful musings on the non-exceptionalism of modern science). His latest outside-the-box venture was published with his Harvard colleague Manasvi Lingam in the Astrophysical Journal, where the two speculate that the fast radio bursts that have baffled astronomers recently (see 2/28/17) might have a non-physical explanation: they might be intentional works of space aliens driving solar-sail spacecraft with energy. SETI, of course, is nothing new, but we will see strange contradictions about this in a moment. His thesis on the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics website explains:

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has looked for many different signs of alien life, from radio broadcasts to laser flashes, without success. However, newly published research suggests that mysterious phenomena called fast radio bursts could be evidence of advanced alien technology. Specifically, these bursts might be leakage from planet-sized transmitters powering interstellar probes in distant galaxies.

“Fast radio bursts are exceedingly bright given their short duration and origin at great distances, and we haven’t identified a possible natural source with any confidence,” said theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “An artificial origin is worth contemplating and checking.”

What he and his colleague Manasvi Lingam are saying, essentially, is that a design inference might be justified in this case; at least, it’s worth considering. The Discovery Institute, naturally, latched onto this as a welcome development. Like most secular astronomers these days, Loeb probably shuns intelligent design. But here, he is finding a type of design filter useful. That’s the crazy part: holding to opposite viewpoints simultaneously. And he’s not alone: the news media, sharing the same secular worldview, thought his reasoning was perfectly legitimate. None of them found the contradiction in their worldview:

  • Could Mysterious Cosmic Light Flashes Be Powering Alien Spacecraft? (Mike Wall on Space.com)
  • Could fast radio bursts really be powering alien space ships? (New Scientist)

Mike Wall writes thoughtfully,

Lingam and Loeb acknowledge the speculative nature of the study. They aren’t claiming that FRBs are indeed caused byaliens; rather, they’re saying that this hypothesis is worthy of consideration.

“Science isn’t a matter of belief; it’s a matter of evidence,” Loeb said. “Deciding what’s likely ahead of time limits the possibilities. It’s worth putting ideas out there and letting the data be the judge.”

Such lines could have been written by Paul Nelson or any other ID advocate. So that’s the rub; to secularists, intelligent design theory is dangerous and pseudoscientific, except when it’s not.

Episode III: Nothing Is Something

Stephen Hawking is smart, right? Sure; he holds the chair of mathematics at Cambridge that Isaac Newton held. But in a case of trying to lift oneself up into the air by one’s own bootstraps, Dr. Hawking teaches that the universe created itself from nothing – and since he is smart, many in Big Media repeat it, and think it’s a profound discovery.  A widely-repeated quote from Hawking’s new book The Grand Design (which is about anything but a designer, since Hawking is an atheist), states: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” On ID the Future, host Jay Richards recalls a quote from the LA Times review of the book where the reporter says, “This is something that must be believed but not understood.” Dr. John Lennox from Oxford replies with a chuckle, “I think I would put it more strongly than that; it can’t be understood because it is self-contradictory.”

Lennox points out at least three self-contradictory propositions in Hawking’s ideas. The first and obvious one is that gravity is not nothing; “a law of gravity without gravity would be meaningless.” Next is Hawking’s claim that the universe made itself from nothing (also proposed by Caltech astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss in his book, A Universe from Nothing). The phrase “X created Y” makes sense, Lennox explains, because it implies the pre-existence of X to explain the existence of Y. But to say “X created X” is irrational, because it presupposes the existence X to explain the existence of X. So if you set X equal to “the universe,” Lennox quips, it shows that “nonsense remains nonsense even if  famous scientists talk it.”

The third contradiction is Hawking’s page-one claim that “Philosophy is dead.” But then, Hawking proceeds to write a book on philosophy! Lennox jokes that Hawking and his co-author Leonard Mlodinow “prove that as far they’re concerned, philosophy very much is dead.” In a rhetorical coup, Lennox sheds some heavenly light on the hellish insanity of holding to contradictory ideas. Hawking had ridiculed religion in an interview for The Guardian, saying, “Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” Lennox was asked to respond in The Daily Mail, “Well, if you want a one-liner at that level,” he told the reporter, “atheism is a fairy story for people afraid of the light.”

Richards notes that the average person reading Hawking’s statement about the universe creating itself would think, ‘that doesn’t make any sense.’ But there’s something about the stature or the aura around Stephen Hawking, he says, that reasonable people give him a free pass.

Brains and reputation cannot rescue nonsense. If something is self-contradictory, there is no hope for it, no matter who says it.

We’ll have examples of contradictory evolutionary opinions in a future post – statements that are ridiculously implausible, or that violate evolutionary theory’s own fundamental principles.

We should all strive to have coherent belief systems. We should listen to those who disagree with us, and consider their views fairly. We should follow the evidence where it leads. Not doing so is crazy.

Comments

  • coreysan says:

    I’m reading “How to be an Atheist” by Mitch Stokes (works with Alvin Plantinga). He covers this idea as well. Imagine two scenarios: one is a computer wired to your brain in a vat (BIV), and the electrodes stimulate your neurons so that you experience sensations of well-being. Now imagine you are actually on some vacation and you experience sensations of well-being. Which scenario would you choose to experience?

    Interesting thought experiment!

  • Fitimtari says:

    Frazer is certainly politically/psephologically ignorant if he really thinks that Trump, let alone Brexit was “unthinkable.” In the case of the latter, although generally favoring a Remain result, the polls were close throughout the campaign – never more than a single digit apart. And not for the first time, it turned out that a crucial sector of the public were under-polled, which sector happened to be strongly inclined to vote Out. Really, pollsters should have taken a leaf out of the parliamentary majority win by Cameron’s Conservatives a year earlier, which I don’t think a single poll during the preceding campaign had forecast. In any case, from a broader historical perspective, plenty of historical events have been much more revolutionary than these – 1776, 1789, 1848, 1917, 1933 and 1989 are some key years that spring to mind.

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