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.


BernieDehler said...

Great tie-in with Robertson confusing his imagination with God's voice, and 11 year old Chad's statement to Hovind that the voices Hovind hears might be "one part of his brain talking to another" rather than voices from God. Here's another video clip, from the same debate, where Hovind says brain chemistry is similar to fizzy soft drinks:

WCG said...

Thanks for the link (and the comment), Bernie. Yeah, that was really something! Can Hovind really be that dumb, or does he know he's being dishonest?

I'm afraid I haven't watched the full debate, though I know that you were his debate opponent. Unfortunately, there's just never enough time for everything.

And Eric Hovind is one of those guys where I'm afraid the stupidity might rub off, if I watch too much. :)

But seriously, I'll try to find the time for it. Thanks again for the comment.