Thunderf00t (an atheist) Versus Eric Hovind (a Christian) at Reason Rally
On April 6, 2012 At 6:51 pm
Responses : 7 Comments
I am not sure why I watch the whole video. Maybe I was in awe of the insanity. I do not know, but just listening to Eric Hovind gave me a headache. Even so, Thunderf00t took Hovind back to Philosophy 101 and Science 101, yet the man still could not grasp what Thunderf00t was saying.
First, Thunderf00t is a well-educated scientist and possibly a professor or “professional educator”. I know the first, because Honest Discussioner went around about this with a few people on YouTube, until he found the answer to his question.
I will not get into HD’s ordeal concerning Thunderf00t, but as a university graduate, I heard many professors complain that in grades Kindergarten through 12, teachers do not teach the students to think. Students often learn from rote, memorizing facts, without question and without learning to test assumptions, thus many college professors feel they need to begin by teaching students how to think.
Hovind is not only a Christian, but also a Creationist, who apparently never questioned his religion. His intent, while at the Reason Rally, was to evangelize, albeit unsuccessfully.
In true form, the Christian showed this inability, which professors complain about, to think about subjects with reason and logic in grand style as he conversed with Thunderf00t. Religion has the tendency to do the same thing, as grades prior to college study, only more so and worse. One person in the crowd even asked Hovind if he went to college and/or studied Logic.
For Christians, especially Creationist Christians, the answer is always, “I know this because God said so and it is written in this little book.” How do they know the book is true? “God wrote the book.” They never tested any of those assumptions, because they are not supposed to question “God”.
First, Hovind asked a malformed question, according to Thunderf00t. “Is it impossible for God exist?” If I understand Thunderf00t correctly, the question is malformed because it demands at least three things in order to answer it.
1. Define God. We cannot answer that question without a definition of the deity in question. There are millions of gods, even among Christians, and all created in the minds of humans, so we cannot know what the deity in question is, until we define the deity. Even then, the bottom line is any concept of a deity a human conceives is of, is nothing more than a human creation, and only exists in the human mind. Said deity is not reality, which leads us into the philosophical question of “What is reality?”
2. Define reality. This gets into Descartes and other philosophers, of which a whole discussion and debate has gone on for centuries concerning this topic.
3. Hovind neglected the three basic assumptions of Philosophy. The question he asked is a philosophical question, which needs defining and reforming. Even then, the question may still end up malformed.
Thunderf00t takes Hovind back to Philosophy 101 with the three basic assumptions.
1. Making an assumption that the universe exists
2. You can learn something about reality
3. Models with predictive capabilities are more useful than models without predictive capabilities.
I recognized Thunderf00t used many of the ideas of the great the philosophers while talking to Hovind. Some of them are Kant, Descartes, Hume, and even once, I noticed a version of Shankara.
Shankara, like many other philosophers, dealt with the question of reality. Concerning the question of reality, one example Shankara used was a person assuming, in dim lighting, that the wound up coil in the corner was a snake. Upon the light of day, it turned out to be a rope, but his fear kept him from finding the truth until the sun rose, giving him light to see what it really was. The light illuminated the “snake”, which was really a rope, and the person acquired enlightenment.1
However, the fear of a snake in the dark is a survival mechanism and the emotion very real. This basic primitive emotion, which we still possess today, keeps us safer and alive, until we can observe what really scares us.
We no longer live and sleep in trees, so we can observe, test, and study the things that once scared us and caused us to believe in gods. Humans are no longer as superstitious as we once were, because we acquired scientific knowledge.
Science is based on observations tested with the use of the scientific method.
1. Make observations
2. Do background research
3. Form a testable hypothesis based on your observations and research
4. Conduct experiments to test your hypothesis
5. Replicate the experiment the exact same way to see if you continue to achieve the same results.
6. Analyze the data acquired from your tests and form a conclusion
Wikipedia gives eight steps to this procedure.
A linearized, pragmatic scheme of the four points above is sometimes offered as a guideline for proceeding:
- Define a question
- Gather information and resources (observe)
- Form an explanatory hypothesis
- Test the hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data in a reproducible manner
- Analyze the data
- Interpret the data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
- Publish results
8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)
People must use caution in their research and not use only research that supports the answer to the question one wants or assumes the answer should be.
The majority of adults, capable of reason, agree the deity Ceiling Cat does not really exist and we base that assumption on our observations. Humans can test that many times over and find no Ceiling Cat deity, who watches everything we do.
With the use of the scientific method, humans discovered there are no volcano gods nor do we need to sacrifice virgins to a volcano deity. Humans, for the most part, no longer fear the majority of deities we once believed were real, but the questions still remain, “Is it a snake or a rope?” or rather, “What is reality?” and “Does God exist?”
The reality is that there is no Ceiling Cat. The majority of people feel safe believing that assumption, but what if one day, you heard scratching sounds in your ceiling, went to explore, and found a cat trapped in your air duct? The assumption that there is no such thing as Ceiling Cat is disproven. The question, albeit probably not actually asked, is “Is it a god?” Most people would not assume the cat is a god, but for the sake of a name, might call the cat “Ceiling Cat”.
With exception of those who are extremely religious and superstitious, most humans are no longer as superstitious as our ancestors were and usually do not assume a deity or a demon, where none exists.
One thing we can observe is that other apes possess five fingers, make weapons, and create shelters. They look very similar to us. Scientists made further observations and found that Bonobos are 98% genetically similar to us. Although other apes have yet to evolve to the level of the apes in the movie Planet of the Apes, we do live on a planet full of apes.
With science and reason, we can make reasonable assumptions. Humans no longer need to make the baseless assumption that a deity did it and we know, more or less where we came from and how we evolved.
Genesis is purely a fictional account of how primitive humans thought we arrived on the planet and many cultures have creation stories. These stories are nothing more than a means of telling a story, mostly to children, of how humans arrived on the planet, but are purely literature with no scientific facts. These stories are a lot like telling children about Santa Claus, but unfortunately, many adults, due to the fear factor imposed on them as children, without the privilege of questioning the stories, never out grow the fantasy.
Once a person is able to question the myths they grew up with, by researching, studying, and acquiring new information, the blinders of superstition are usually removed and reality, much like the rope in Shankara’s example concerning reality, changes to fit a more real paradigm based on reason and science.
In order to do that, many of us must learn how to think and think rationally, especially when exploring philosophical questions. Too many people do not know how to think and form appropriate questions. Thus, the question of rather or not a deity exists is a malformed question, both scientifically and philosophically.
Finally, Hovind needs to get over his false belief that people cannot know anything unless they believe in God. The idea that someone knows something because a deity and the person’s holy text said so, goes back to not thinking.
I do not believe Hovind is retarded, but until he can admit that he does not know anything, he cannot learn, at least not as easily. The first step in learning is to admit you do not know and one single source, such as the Bible, does not possess all the answers to life and the universe.
Thunderf00t tried for an hour to get Hovind to think, which shows he possesses a lot of patience, but Hovind did not seem willing to learn. He truly believes he knows because he believes in God. Seems like a sad state to exist, especially when one does not think about these things thoroughly and come to their own conclusions, instead of a Dark Age conclusion that passed down for generations and unquestioned due to fear.
I do have one question for Thunderf00t… Why did you bother spending an hour going around with this man, only to get frustrated and get nowhere with him? Personally, I probably would have walked away within ten to fifteen minutes tops.
1. Stevenson, L. & Haberman, D. (2004). Ten Theories of Human Nature (4th ed.), New York : Oxford University Press, 38-39.