Matt: Well, there's a number of different definitions, but the guiding principle is that you begin with an observation, you develop a hypothesis, and then there is a process of testing and falsification, peer reviewed research where others attempt to replicate your results and falsify them to demonstrate, you know ... we're constantly trying to prove that this is wrong, and then you get to the point where an hypothesis has graduated and becomes a theory and it becomes the best current explanation possible. I noticed there's been a lot of times when you've talked about the origin of the earth, or evolution, and any number of things where people who understand the subjects much better than I do, probably better than any of us in this room do, have corrected you on things and yet the arguments keep ... your arguments remain the same and I'm curious as to why that is, I mean if for example in your book "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think" you answered a question from an e-mail that was how old do you think the earth is, you essentially said you had no idea how old the earth is but science doesn't either, or science has continually changed because, you know, years ago they though it was a hundred million years and now their up to four and a half billion years.
Matt: Well, science hasn't made any steps towards the absurd notion that it's six to ten thousand years old, and at each stage the date was the best available, we are building on knowledge, as we're standing on the shoulders of giants seeing further all the time, and so the idea that science hasn't any idea, or any good idea, about how old the earth is just demonstrably wrong.
Ray: Could it change over the next hundred years?
Matt: Will the date become more precise over the next hundred years?
Matt: Quite possibly, if we get additional information.
Ray: So, that means at the present day our modern dating could be wrong, more than likely.
Matt: Yes, however ...
Ray: So, therefore science doesn't know how old the earth is ...
Matt: Well, you're still referring to know as an assertion of absolute certainty, and science doesn't do that and no rational person should outside of a handful of things that we can be absolutely certain about, you know, our own existence and direct experience things, you're saying that science doesn't know just because it hasn't come up with a firm date that the earth is four point two ...
Ray: That's right, it could change by a billion years in the next hundred years, easily.
Matt: Yeah, but it's not gonna go down to six to ten thousand years, I mean, that's incredibly unlikely.
Ray: Well, I didn't say that.
Matt: I understand, but what you're presenting is that as long as you can't be absolutely certain about something every answer is just as good as any other, that if science isn't absolutely certain to the minute or second about how old the earth is that an answer of four to six thousand years, six to ten thousand years is equally viable as one that's four and a half billion years and that's just simply not true.
Ray: No, I didn't say that, and I didn't say if science can't ...
Matt: I know you didn't say it, that's the implication ...
Ray: To the second or the minute, I'm saying you guys change by the billions.
Russell: When you talk about error bars ... changing things ... it doesn't change by the billions, what are you talking about?
Ray: Well, you just check out the last hundred years of history of how old science thought the earth is and you'll find it just jumps all over the place, you know, from hundreds of thousands to millions to billions ...
Ray: So, I don't like that, I like something being a little more precise and when it's more precise, I'll say okay.
Russell: But, Ray ...
Matt: I'm sorry, hang on, I'm sorry that you don't like that, but that's what happens when you learn more, when you learn something new you change according with the evidence, the preponderance of evidence is such that it changes minds.
Ray: Well, Matt, Matt, what would you think if I just kept changing all the time to a point where I was unreasonable, where I'd change terminologies?
Matt: Well, I'm not quite sure what you mean by change terminologies...
Ray: Well, this is one question I have with atheists saying there's no such thing as creation when everyone knows there's a creation.
Matt: No we don't.
Russell: No we don't.
Matt: And the fact that you keep asserting everyone knows it when I'm sitting here as someone who does not know it makes you demonstrably wrong.
Ray: ( speaking at same time ) Okay, between the two of you you know there's a creation out there.
Ray: I know there's a creation, its always been called a creation.
Russell: Ray, Ray, I'd like to ask you a question about your grain of sand analogy.
Russell: Have you ever personally seen any intelligent being whatsoever create a grain of sand?
Ray: I don't have to, I can see there's creation out there to show me there's a creator.
Russell: Okay, so on the one hand you're asking atheists to account for every detail, every bit of information, to the precise second, to the precise millimeter of whatever it is they're measuring, but on the other hand what you want us to accept in return is that the thing you say, because you are willing to come on here and say "I know what it is, I have absolute knowledge, I have certainty" that we should believe you when here you are saying I've never observed that sort of thing either, but it just happens.
Ray: Russell, what I'm saying is that apply the scientific method to that which is around you, observe what's been made and you'll come up there's a maker.
Russell: How can I assign the scientific method when there's no observations, there's no tests, there's no kind of measurement that you can even propose that would tell the difference between a universe with a god and one without one?
Ray: Yes, there is.
Matt: What's the test?
Ray: Common sense.
Russell: Is that really what you think the scientific method is?
Ray: That's what all you need to have is common sense, and say look at this beautiful creation with its flowers, and birds, and seasons ...
Russell: So, when you say that your belief in God is consistent with science ... do you say that?
Ray: Of course, science just means knowledge.
Russell: But what you mean by that is just think about it, and apply common sense, and go with the first thing that you believe, and that's right, is that where you're going?
Ray: No, not at all, now let me repeat it, if you look around you'll see flowers, birds, seasons, fruits, all these beautiful things in creation that surround us, that tell us, or tell a reasonable mind, that an intelligent designer made it because we with our intelligence can't create even one grain of sand from nothing.
Matt: So, anybody who doesn't see this design has an unreasonable mind?
Ray: Yeah, exactly right.
Matt: Okay ...
Ray: Or, they're not saying.
Matt: As a possibly insane and unreasonable person, do you go to the doctor?
Ray: All the time.
Matt: Do you realize how much medical science has changed in the last hundred years or so?
Ray: Absolutely, and it's still changing, and hospitals are still very dangerous places.
Matt: And yet you still rely on that as the best possible information about medical health, right?
Matt: So, why is it that you will take that scientific assessment when it comes to something like health, but you don't take it with regard to biology, and other things?
Ray: Because I don't need to, my health isn't dependent on what I believe about the theory of evolution.
Matt: Actually, it kinda is, because the theory of evolution is how we use ... how we develop vaccines and other medicines that kill things that evolve, living things, viruses, bacteria, etcetera.
Ray: Okay ...
Matt: So the theory of evolution ...
Ray: I took a flu shot, you got me.
Matt: Okay, but my question though was how is it that you can justify accepting medicine as the best explanation for our understanding of health, and taking it, and yet refuse to do the same when the same science, based on the exact same principles, done by some of the same people, come up with answers that disagree with your preconception about ...
Ray: No, no, I don't have a preconception about the earth, it's just that we're talking about ... when you talk about science your talking about the age of the earth ...
Matt: I'm not talking about the age of the earth, I'm talking about evolution, the age of the earth, all of it, all of these thing are science based solutions, and you're accepting ... you're cherry-picking what science you want to accept ...
Ray: No, no, I actually don't ... I don't think the theory of evolution is even slightly scientific, I think it's bogus, I think it's a fairy tale for grown-ups, I used to believe it but I no longer believe it because I don't like having to use blind faith when it comes to something like that.
Matt: How absurd.
Russell: But, you do agree ... you would agree with the statement, wouldn't you, that although it's a fairy tale for grown-ups it's something that the vast majority of practicing credentialed phd'd biologists would say is true. I mean, I'm not saying for you to say evolution is true, you just agree that that puts you at odds with the vast majority of the scientific community, am I right?
Ray: It doesn't worry me, I'll stay with Newton and a few other folks like that, that believed that God created the universe.
Matt: Sure, sure ...
Russell: So you're bothered by the fact that it changes ...
Matt: Centuries and centuries ago when they didn't have the newer information ... you're willing to stay in the dark ages is what you're saying.
Ray: No, I'm not, I just don't want to have to accept something by faith, and you believe the theory of evolution, I don't believe it ...
Matt: But you don't have to ... I don't accept anything on faith, I don't take the theory of evolution on faith, it's completely supported by evidence right down to DNA, I mean, you take Francis Collins, the director of the NIH and an evangelical Christian although you may disagree, has said that even if there were no transitional fossils, which in fact there are, and if there were no other evidence, the DNA evidence alone is enough to confirm common ancestry, but the fact that people use the genetic aspect of evolution in the lab to not only develop vaccines and medications but also speciation has been observed in the lab as well, I don't know how anybody can possibly say that that this is something that needs to be accepted on faith.
Ray: Okay, let me just take you back a minute, you said transitional fossils, there are plenty.
Ray: Sure there are plenty, I would like to know are there any species to species transitional fossils?
Matt: Everything is in constant state of transition ...
Ray: No, no, no, no, no, I mean ... I don't mean that, don't spread it out that far, just give me a specific ...
Matt: It's ... You have a fundamental misunderstanding about evolution.
Ray: Straighten me out.
Matt: That ... I think what you're looking for is a cat to dog .
Matt: What are you looking for?
Russell: How 'bout a crocoduck?
Ray: I'm looking for something that shows a change, evolution from one kind to another.
Matt: What's a kind? Because, kind has no scientific definition.
Ray: Well, if I say species, you'll say what species because ...
Russell, Matt: No.
Matt: I'll happily give you eoraptor, aerosaurus, allosaurus, archaeopteryx, tiktaalik, homo erectus, me sitting here right now, we are all transitional forms, you have to think about things on the evolutionary time scale.
Russell: Ray, you do understand what a species is, right, I mean, what the scientific definition of it is?
Ray: No, because there are about sixteen or seventeen different biological definitions for the word species.
Russell: Do you know what the main one is? Because, I mean, a lot of people ... we mentioned we had solicited questions, and by far the most frequent question was to have you explain your current understanding of evolution, because ... a lot of very smart people have, in the past, tried to explain this sort of stuff to you, and it just seems to flow right off
Russell: Well, I hate to put it that way, but there is like a primary definition of a species as it's used by biologists.
Ray: Give that to me, will you Matt, and then we'll just see if we agree or not, but it's like you cannot pin it down, the word species, its got so many definitions.
Russell: A species .. Okay, two populations make up separate species if they can't interbreed with each other.
Russell: Okay, under that definition lots of transitional species, I mean lots of changes from one species to another have occurred under laboratory conditions, I can provide you a reference if you want it.
Ray: You're talking about bacteria.
Russell: Not just bacteria, ... I'm talking about flies ... various ...
Ray: What sort of flies? Be more specific.
Russell: In order for things to occur under laboratory conditions obviously they have to have a short enough life span that they can change in an observably time frame.
Ray: When you say change, do they change to another ...
Ray: Species, so another species that's fly or another species that's bacteria?
Russell: In other words, they isolate two populations ...
Matt: Another species that's fly, the change is always going to be gradual.
Russell: Right, they put the two species back together and they can't interbreed with each other, that happens.
Ray: Okay, so you have two flies that can't interbreed, or you have two lots of bacteria that can't interbreed ...
Ray: and that's your proof of Darwinian evolution ...
Russell: It isn't ...
Matt: No, no, no ...
Russell: It's an example.
Ray: that man had an ancestor in apes.
Matt: It's not the proof ...
Ray: And not only that ...
Matt: It is, Ray, it is not the proof, it is one piece of evidence.
Ray: I've got to tell you this is probably the strongest evidence, because it's the one you guys keep coming back to, bacteria can't interact with bacteria ...
Matt: We've mentioned it exactly once.
Ray: I've got to finish my thought, you've got to let me finish my thought.
Matt: I just don't like you misrepresenting it, you say you guys keep coming back to it, you brought up the word bacteria, and Russell provided one example ... go ahead.
Russell: I think by you guys he meant atheists in general, right?
Ray: Yeah, yeah, and that's the best you've got, and it's ...
Ray: When I say you I mean that's what I keep hearing from atheists, every time I say be specific, but you've got to receive that by faith, you didn't observe it, you've got to receive what some other person has told you ...
Matt: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Ray: or some book.
Mat- no, no, no, first of all, maybe we have different definitions of faith, because if Russell tells me that he observed something, I don't necessarily believe it absolutely just because Russell told me.
Ray: Do you trust him?
Matt: I generally do trust him, yes.
Ray: That's faith.
Matt: That's not faith, because, ... not at least in the way that I look at faith, I'm trusting Russell based on a measure of reasonable ... I don't trust him completely, I trust him to the degree that is earned based on the actual evidence. If I know Russell to be a generally truthful person, I will believe him to a certain extent, I mean if he tells me that he was abducted by aliens I don't care how much I like the guy ...
Russell: Actually ...
Matt: and how trustworthy he is, I'm going to need more evidence than merely his word, but if he says he got a new pet dog, I know that dog people have pets, and pet dogs, not all claims are created equal and you assess a claim based on its merits, but let me see if I can find another way to kind of expose this evolution issue with you. We know, to the extent that we can know anything, that, for example, Spanish and Italian are both derivatives of Latin, correct?
Ray: I suppose so, I trust you.
Matt: Well, Okay, that'll be your undoing.
Matt: We are able to trace back the origins of these languages, we categorize them, we understand that these came out of Latin, and you can see a difference even amongst different English languages, but Spanish and Italian are different, and they both derived from Latin, there is no mother ... a Latin speaking mother who gave birth to a Spanish speaking child, some people continued to speak Latin, some people moved off and their Latin changed and became Spanish over time, some people moved off and their Latin became Italian over time, and at no point was there this ... the crocoduck of language, the Latin Spanaduck, or whatever.
Matt: People gave birth to kids that spoke the language within their region, and over a great deal of time, and a seperation regionally, they became different distinct languages, that is directly analogous to what happens with species under evolution.
Matt: Okay, ... the ... I wasn't expecting an Okay.
Last edited by MAtheist
on Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.