Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Frank Turek takes on some guy named Jon

My friend DagoodS tipped me off to the fact that recently Frank Turek on his podcast was talking about me.  Listen to what he had to say here or below.

Well, I gotta say that's not quite how I remember it.  Kind of reminds me of something I read from Vinny recently.  The apologist sometimes wants to respond to the argument he wishes the skeptic had made rather than the one he actually made.

Two days after I saw Frank speak and asked him a question I blogged about it, and you can read that here.  He's right that I did say that his argument was "God of the gaps".  We really don't know how the universe came into existence.  In the past when we didn't understand a phenomenon the spiritualists claimed that God or gods were the cause.  Every time we've been able to make a determination one way or the other, and obviously there are still some phenomenon we don't understand so we haven't made a determination in every case, but the ones we have determined have all, 100%, been discovered to have natural causes, not spiritual causes.  The "spiritual causality" answer is batting zero, whereas the "natural causality" answer is batting 1000.  So here we are.  We're considering a new phenomenon for which we don't know the cause.  What caused our universe to come into existence?  It's a gap in our knowledge.  Frank shoves God in that gap, I am content to say I don't know, but based on the track record my money is on natural causation.

Now, here's where Frank is possibly misremembering our conversation.  He attributes to me the claim that I believe science WILL discover that the cause was natural.  There's no way I said that, because I don't believe they will.  They might.  They might not.  We may never know.  That's good enough for me.  Of course I do believe that the there was no supernatural agency.  That's because the supernatural agency explanation is batting zero and the natural cause explanation is batting 1000.  If you want to call that faith, I guess that's fine.  I have faith in that in the same way I have faith that if I release a ball it will fall to the ground in accordance with gravitation.  It's always done it in the past, so it probably will in the future.  That's a belief based on evidence, which is not normally what people mean by faith.  But if that is what you mean by faith, fine.  I have faith that the universe wasn't caused by a supernatural agent.

Frank believes that the cause of the universe is not a knowledge "gap" because there are things we know about it.  We know it's timeless, spaceless, and a few other things.  But really, what do we know about what our universe was prior to the Planck time, which is something like 10^-43 seconds into the life of our universe?  As I understand speaking of "time" doesn't even make sense at that point.  None of our scientific laws work any more, even mathematically.  As I understand even talk of "space" doesn't make sense, because apparently in some way all of our dimensions were folded in on themselves.  Frankly the whole thing is incomprehensible to me.  "Before" time when time didn't exist as we know it?  What does that even mean?  As far as science is concerned this is just an impenetrable mystery.  A "gap" in our knowledge if you will.  I think the apologist wants to pretend that he knows what happened between zero and 10^-43 seconds, but I just don't buy it.  And obviously I can't be convinced by an appeal to the incomprehensible.

Anyway, I think Frank is a pretty good guy and he probably misremembered our conversation, which is no big deal.  If you read my post describing our prior encounter you may think Frank has an amazing memory, so it's unlikely he got it wrong, but without going into all the details I think there's actually a good reason why he was able to remember the details I referenced in that post about me.  Still I was impressed that he remembered all that he did.  But as I say, I like Frank.  He's very pleasant to talk to and seems like a lot of fun.  I wonder if he takes calls on his podcast?


DagoodS said...

Inexplicably, I listen fairly regularly to Turek’s podcasts. He says the same thing over and over and over. I caught myself, in listening to this one, saying at one point, “Hmmm…wonder what Pascal would say ‘bout that?” Sure enough, in the next 6 seconds, Frank mentions the Pascal quote. He quotes it at least 2 out of 3 podcasts.

I’ve heard the story about the Eastern Michigan Student who shouted “NO!” when asked if he would become a Christian if Christianity were true. I’ve heard the story of the Pastor confounding his opponent by stating, “You don’t want to be a Christian because you want to keep sleeping with your girlfriend!”

Like he has a repertoire of skeptical anecdotes to fit whatever scenario he needs for his current claim.

Then I heard this podcast, with this “Jon” fellow from University of Michigan, who Frank had seen at another Michigan university, and I couldn’t help wondering whether you are yet another skeptical anecdote he keeps like cue cards.

Yeah, I knew he strawmanned you with the alleged quote about science answering the question someday. I agree with you—at this point we don’t have enough information and it is possible we may never have enough information.

Jon said...

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story, right? This is red meat for the faithful. "The atheist has FAITH". He's been riding this line since his first book and there's no end in sight.

So it looks like he does take calls. Saturday 10-11. I'll have to call in and give him crap about this.

Examinator said...

DagwoodS and Jon, Clearly everything is possible given enough time but given our, homo sapien historic proclivities and all know parameters I doubt that we have THAT much time.

Examinator said...

Off topic
Read this (part of the latest draft of the IPCC report)

Aust has its problems too they have just elected a Liberal government (note it's conservative).
they have just scrapped the Climate change committee ( an educational group of experts from all fields including business) that has been touring the county explaining AGW and giving FACTS.
They have disbanded:
The independent international aid organization.

The office of women's affairs. They have 1 female in cabinet and 6 in parliament.

They no longer have a ministry (secretary) of science.( first time since 1923)

They have threatening to tow refugee boats back to Indonesian waters and buy fishing boats from the coastal (fishing)villagers in Indonesia!
And pay for village spies to inform on people smugglers. Yer right! not surprisingly the Indonesians are upset.

Oh yes they've put a general in charge of discouraging boat refugees.

They're planning to scrap the "Carbon tax" ( sic) read price on carbon.
The list goes on ...however, some of their ideas need approval from both houses... it'll be nothing if not interesting.

BTW a recent scientific report shows that 'hobby' hunters (sic) shooters are in fact making the feral animal problems WORSE. They favor the sexy (big)introduced pests ( deer, pigs) but their 'culling' is helping the more threatening introduced feral animals (cats, dogs, foxes and rabbits etc.).

Jon said...

You're just full of good cheer, eh Ex? Sometimes you wonder if natural selection will one day show that higher intelligence is not what you want if you want your species to survive for a long time. Frustrating because we have the tools to do it and have a pleasant equitable world, but right now this dream seems unattainable.