Upstairs At Eric’s: Track Eight

In his debate with Matt Dillahunty, Eric’s opening statement was a stack of premises which he was building toward the conclusion that God exists. He was attempting to use a modified version of the Kalam cosmological argument to argue that God made the universe. As we’ve seen, his argument never got off the ground. I expected his eighth premise to continue this exercise in futility, and in a sense it does. But it was so unhinged from the others that I wondered whether Eric had suffered a concussion between sentences.

Premise number eight: whatever is eternal is intelligent. The proof of this is the principle of uniformity. Again, this principle teaches us that similar effects have similar causes. Some effects can have practically an unlimited number of causes while other effects will have a significantly limited number of causes. And still others will only have one cause. The principle of uniformity reveals only one known cause for the origination of the type of functional specified complexity we see in the simplest living cell. And that cause is intelligence.1

Close But No Cigar

I have to acknowledge that Eric does his homework. He did a great job of emulating William Lane Craig’s technique of littering an opening statement with assertions while providing no substantial support for them and remaining vague on critical terminology. He avoided employing Michael Behe’s debunked notion of irreducible complexity, opting instead to lean on William Dembski’s concept of specified complexity. Unfortunately, Dembski fares no better than Behe regarding the validity and soundness of their respective arguments. Which is to say there is none. I won’t address the specific failings of specified complexity here since there are resources online which do a much better job of that than I could. One such article had this absolutely brilliant summation of Dembski’s book on specified complexity:

In short, No Free Lunch is completely worthless, except as a work of pseudo-scientific rhetoric aimed at a mathematically unsophisticated audience which may mistake its mathematical mumbo jumbo for genuine erudition. However, since I have been urged to find something positive to write about it, I am pleased to be able to report that the book has an excellent index.2

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

Eric tried to use this “principle of uniformity” as proof again. It’s important to note that at this point, we’re still talking about the universe. He rattled off the same clumsily-worded principle of dubious origin that he used as proof of an earlier premise, but he didn’t actually apply it. In fact, he failed to establish how this principle could apply to the universe. We have one universe which we can observe and test, and we have no others to which we can compare it. So we have nothing which could reasonably be called similar to the universe. Since we have no similar effects, how could we possibly determine similar causes? Eric’s appeal to this “principle” as proof is laughably fallacious.

At this point, Eric simply lost his damn mind. He suddenly switched his reference from the universe to the simplest living cell as if it makes sense to do that. And he did so in order to bootstrap on the concept of intelligence which, as all others he’d mentioned, went completely unclarified and undefined. He also introduced the concept of specified complexity with absolutely no clarification or definition. The wording alone is enough to bring accusations of circular reasoning. Eric is just heaping on unsubstantiated concepts and buzzwords with the assumption that whatever isn’t refuted somehow stands by default. He doesn’t understand that a failure to refute a proposition doesn’t erase his failure to establish it in the first place.

Shell Game

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Eric changed the references but not the wording of the premises, and he failed to tie universes and cells together. Even if we were to grant that something eternal created the universe, it wouldn’t at all follow that the same eternal something created cells. One might assert it, but one certainly couldn’t validly deduce it. Eric asserted that intelligence is required for the origination of living cells. Does that somehow mean that intelligence is also required for the origination of universes? Is there specified complexity in the universe? What would that even mean? Everything about this premise is completely disconnected from the rest of Eric’s entire argument, which renders it useless.

The whole thing is an argument from analogy anyway. This is weak sauce. Eric doesn’t give any criteria for determining whether two things are analogous. He simply asserted an unsubstantiated feature of cells, cherry-picked that particular feature from human-designed objects, cherry-picked intelligence from all of the relevant human features, and declared that an undemonstrated something must be intelligent too. It’s glaringly obvious that Eric is just making shit up now. How about tying any of this drivel back to the universe? Let’s make living cells and planets analogous. We have observed the formation of a planet which confirmed hypotheses about planet formation 3. Planet formation seems to require nothing which cannot be explained by natural laws. Therefore, by analogy, living cell formation doesn’t either. See how lame that is? It’s lame when Eric tries to bolster his case with it, too.

End Game

Eric’s whole goal for rattling off these premises was to establish a list of characteristics which the originator of the universe and living cells would be required to have. Yep, he started with an originator in mind. The guy loves circles. Eric then declares that only God has these characteristics, therefore God is the best explanation. His whole thing turned out to be a ridiculous Gish gallop toward an abductive conclusion. Eric doesn’t know of any other originator which has these characteristics except for God, so that makes God the best answer. If that sounds like pure guesswork, talking out of one’s ass, and a big ol’ god-of-the-gaps, that’s because it is. Eric spent a lot of time and energy to say absolutely nothing. This is hardly the “rock-solid evidence”, “facts”, and “proof” Eric claims it to be. If you were to gather the droppings of several different badgers, put it all in a big blender and mix it around, you wouldn’t have anything but a bunch of badger shit and a blender you could never use again. Blender aside, that’s what we’re left with at the end of Eric’s case.

I’ve listened to Eric’s calls into The Atheist Experience, and he displays an arrogance and bravado which is absolutely repulsive by any measure. In his debate with Matt Dillahunty, and with his own words, Eric has given the world rock-solid evidence that his arrogance is unwarranted.

References:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiNEuz6wstM
http://www.talkorigins.org/design/faqs/nfl
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/november/proto-planet-forming-111815....

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