Basics on Having a Reasonable Conversation: Credentials

The introduction to the essay contains a few base positions which are needed in having a reasonable conversation about any topic.

Credentials

            I think we can all agree that a scholar’s credentials can be very important to the reliability of the information and opinions that they express. With that said, just because someone has a masters degree, a P.H.D., and is the head of a science department, doesn’t necessarily mean their opinions are reliable. The weight of the evidence is what is reliable, not their credentials alone. For example; the reputation of Francis S. Collins is used by some Christians to support their beliefs. Collins is a leading scientist, has good credentials, and was the Director of The National Human Genome Research Institute at N.I.V. He has won numerous awards for his contributions to genetic research and he is also a Christian. His credentials as a scientist however, cannot be used to support his Christian beliefs because he didn’t use his scientific mind as the basis for his beliefs. The reason he became a Christian (as he himself states) is not through research or evidence, but his own amazement of something he observed in nature. Without any evidence, he says he instantly knew there was a god. That is not how science goes about searching for truth. It should be known that Collins himself admits that the Theory of Evolution is a fact and that humans have existed for at least 150,000 years in his book, The Language of Life (pages 166-167,215-216). If a scholar abandons their credentials in order to support their own beliefs, their credentials become meaningless. Also, if a scholar’s beliefs are quoted, it usually means that the evidence itself is absent, otherwise their opinion wouldn’t be needed. Scholars who make statements about tangible evidence is what holds the most weight.

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An Atheist’s Response Regarding The Historical Evidence for Christianity Part 1

Intro: Authors Note

This is the introduction to my fathers paper. This paper was started circa 2008. Please, enjoy the read. 

Author’s Note:

The purpose of this response is not to turn you into an atheist or cause you any grief in your life. I believe people should be able to believe whatever it is they want to believe, but sometimes the negative impacts of a belief can override it’s positive aspects. I also feel it is important to stand up for the excellent standards science has held throughout history and which has brought humanity most, if not all, of it’s greatest benefits and advancements. This paper is specifically addressed to people who are claiming that there is strong and convincing evidence for their Christian beliefs and who believe that their religious views are more logical to believe that the scientific findings that contradict many of them. Christianity seems to have no problem telling others why they believe that their critic’s views are false, so they shouldn’t have a problem hearing the evidence against their own beliefs or who is someone who is a Christian for other reasons, then this probably not the paper for you.

When I first began studying the Bible, I was doing what most people do when they believe something is true and are involved with a specific group. I was compiling the evidence for that belief. I read many of the books in support of “Intelligent Design” such as Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box, Jonathon Wells’ Icons of Evolution, as well as numerous other books that supported a Christian belief system. All of these books claimed that many of the things science considers as “facts”, are actually inaccurate, such as the Theory of Evolution and it’s consistency with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. This lead me to an important question, If these theories were inaccurate, why is it that the overwhelming majority of scientists state them as fact? In order to be fair to both sides, I began reading what the opposing side had to say from their own writings. One book I found really helped me to begin my assessment of the evidence. It is called the Counter Creationism Handbook by Mark Isaak and it gives scientific answers to the arguments Christians usually use when trying to support their beliefs.

After reading it, as well as numerous other books from authors such as Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel C. Dennett, and Sam Harris, I began to see that many Christians either deliberately misrepresented scientists statements, used false analogies, made unsupported statements of fact, ignored their critic’s refutations, used circular reasoning, or just didn’t understand the science they were opposing. I know that might sound harsh, but throughout my paper, I intend to give examples of every one of them.

One of my reasons for this paper is to show how Christianity forces good people to commit acts which most people would consider immoral. Again, I believe people should be free to believe what they want, but when Christians try to force our schools to teach things that are proven false well beyond reason or when people are dying because of these beliefs, that’s when I think it becomes dangerous to our species and should be confronted.