Well, all this is interesting to me, anyway, and that's what matters here. The Internet is a terrible thing for someone like me, who finds almost everything interesting.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Pat Robertson, Eric Hovind, and the God who knows everything
Pat Robertson admits that he blew it (or God did).
Remember back in January, when Robertson said that 'God' had told him who would win the presidential election this year? Back then, he was too coy to announce who that was.
But to give him credit, he now admits that he was wrong, despite all his practice. "I sho' did miss it. And I thought I'd heard from God, I thought I had heard clearly from God. What happened? What intervenes? Why? You ask God, how'd I miss it?"
Unfortunately, he doesn't go far enough to wonder if he's ever heard from God. He just can't take it far enough to wonder if it's always been his imagination. But that's the problem when you have no method to distinguish delusion and wishful-thinking from reality.
There's no good evidence that any god exists, let alone a particular god. But Robertson just believes what he was brought up to believe, just as he raised his own children to believe. It's faith-based thinking which spans the generations, as it depends entirely on what you want to believe.
Here's another example:
This is Eric Hovind arguing with an 11-year-old. Funny, huh?
After all, the kid has a good question. How can you tell it's really 'God' talking to you, instead of just "one part of your brain actually talking to itself"?
But Hovind just doesn't get it. "If you don't know everything, then you can't know anything to be absolutely truth [sic]."
The kid has a good comeback: "If I don't know everything in the world, then I don't know that you exist?"
I thought Hovind was trying to make the point that we can't know anything for certain, that no matter what, we could always be mistaken. (My answer to that would be... sure, but so what? If we can't know anything for absolute certain, we can still use the best methods of determining the truth and be reasonably confident in the results.)
But no, he's apparently saying that, since we don't know everything, we can't know anything, even to a reasonable degree of confidence (which is flat-out wrong).
In fact, the only way to know anything for certain, according to Hovind, is to have revelation from someone who does know everything, "and that somebody that does know everything is God."
But the kid is too smart for that. "So that means if I don't know everything, that means that I don't know if God exists."
And he's absolutely right. If Hovind is correct, and we can't know anything, then he can't possibly know that 'God' exists, he can't possibly know that God knows everything, and he can't possibly know that God is revealing anything to him.
Either Hovind doesn't get it, or he doesn't want to admit it. "If I knew everything there was to know, if I had all knowledge and you didn't, and there was a rule that said 'I am never, ever, ever allowed to tell a lie,' ... could you now know that to be true, even though you, Chad, don't know everything?"
Hovind is very good at baffling with bullshit, and the kid does seem a bit confused by that (reasonably enough), but he still seems to see the essential point. If you really can't know anything, then you simply can't know that someone "has all knowledge" and you can't know that he won't lie to you - and you can't know anything else about this hypothetical situation, either, not even if that 'somebody' really exists.
Both of these videos demonstrate the essential problem with religion. Without evidence - real evidence - you simply can't distinguish delusion and wishful-thinking from reality. Even with evidence, you could be wrong. But without it, you don't even have a halfway reasonable expectation of being right.
I'm a skeptic. I think it makes sense to have reasons for what I believe, so I apportion my belief to the evidence. You're welcome to disagree. Please, tell me I'm wrong. I probably don't agree with anyone about everything. Why should disagreement be a problem? Check the Pages section below for series posts and links to book reviews and game posts, as well as contact info. Unfortunately, I rarely blog at all, anymore. So don't expect new posts. - Bill
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true. - Robert Wilensky
It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong - Richard Feynman
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other. - Sir Francis Bacon
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speculation is perfectly all right, but if you stay there you've only founded a superstition. If you test it, you've started a science. - Hal Clement
No matter how many times a theory meets its tests successfully, there can be no certainty that it will not be overthrown by the next observation. This, then, is a cornerstone of modern natural philosophy. It makes no claim of attaining ultimate truth. In fact, the phrase "ultimate truth" becomes meaningless, because there is no way in which enough observations can be made to make truth certain and, therefore, "ultimate". - Isaac Asimov
The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. - Treaty of Tripoli, passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed by President John Adams (1797)
I don't doubt the sincerity of dowsers, but even after we've demonstrated that they can't produce results that are any better than chance they'll still go away believing in their abilities... It is like the mother whose son is caught shoplifting on tape. She wonders why someone would want to frame her child by producing a fake video. - James Randi
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church ... imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. - Mark Twain
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. - Bertrand Russell
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. - Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.
This is not about proof. Science does not use proof. We favor evidence, and the work consists largely of the slow accumulation of evidence in support of ideas, not magically potent proofs that establish an idea as unassailable. - PZ Myers
No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. - President Barack Obama
The formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat. - Shekhar Gupta
We are prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small, persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs. - Carl Sagan
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. - Richard Dawkins
120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. - Sam Harris
To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man. - Michael Servetus, burned at the stake in 1553
Democracy is not about majority rule; it is about minority rights. If there is no culture of not simply tolerating minorities, but actually treating them with equal rights, real democracy can't take root. - Thomas L. Friedman
We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason. - Thomas Macauley, 1830
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men. - Edward R. Murrow
The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. Science is simply common sense at its best - that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. - Thomas Huxley
There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity. - Arthur Schopenhauer
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. ... Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. - President Thomas Jefferson
To be elected in America, no matter from what party, the candidates have no choice but to year after year pledge to lower taxes further and further. We have become the nation of Ken and Barbie, looking good but very poor at the math. - Rack Jite
Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them. - Steve Eley
We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle. - Molly Ivins
In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican. - H. L. Mencken
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. - Winston Churchill