EveryStudent.com – inadvertently dishonest [long]

Going about school, one cannot help but notice various posters put up to advertise a website: EveryStudent.com . Go take a look, but remember to read the articles with a pinch of salt.

This site contains articles, Q & A’s, and gives you an opportunity to email a question you might have about God. We will email you a personal response to your question. Our desire is to help you see that God is offering you a personal relationship with himself, and how you can begin to know him today.

The site is developed by a non-denominational Christian organisation: Campus Crusade for Christ. You will find this student organisation on many university campuses throughout the world. If you are interested in seeing a specific list of the theological beliefs of Campus Crusade for Christ, feel free to email us.

We hope that you will consider the possibility of knowing God and his love for you. There is no other relationship we can experience that so completely satisfies the longings of the human heart and mind.

Sounds like Evangelism! For Christians, that’s a good thing, and J. applauds the effort put in to set up this website and place posters all around. Articles that may strike a chord with tertiary students include things like struggles with pornography, stress, sex, depression. Of course, the main answer to everything on this site is Jesus, but that’s no reason to avoid reading about people who have overcome adversity.

It’s when he reached The Existence portion of which he wanted to puke blood. Christians can stand up and confidently say, “Yes, I believe. There is no evidence, but I believe because I have faith!” without resorting to distorting science to build straw men to pull down.

What’s straw men? Examples from both sides. “Creationists think that God put men in charge of this flat Earth and sanctified animal abuse and oppression of women. Belief in intelligent design is evil!” That’s putting up a straw man, creating a false stand for the opposition and then tearing it down. Similarly, “Darwininists worship Darwin who is a racist, so evolution is evil!” is a straw man – it ignores the facts that nobody worships Darwin, evolutionary science has moved on beyond him as it does any scientist, and Darwin wasn’t a racist..

Before we go any further, let’s remind ourselves of the fallacy of open-mindedness. Ask yourself if there is anything that could convince you to believe. For instance, is there anything that can convince an atheist to convert to Christianity? Is there anything that can convince a Christian to commit apostasy? For the latter, that would be manifestly undesirable, since that would likely be the tempting of the devil. So, in that case, Christians should not be open-minded because they have faith. And thus, there should be no exhortations to be “open-minded”. Let us leave that logical fallacy behind and move forward.

It’s always good to look at both sides before becoming convinced, so try this site to see if the very convincing-sounding argument has actually already been rebutted:
TalkOrigins.org, in particular their FAQ section and Index to Creationist Claims.
And then see if proponents of Intelligent Design (it’s less of a scientific site and more of a pro-Intelligent Design site) have come up with rebuttals of rebuttals or more convincing arguments:
Discovery Institute

The feature a popular article by Marilyn Adamson: Is there a God? Six Straightforward Reasons.

1. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

She points to the Earth and the qualities of water being perfectly balanced for life as we know it. That sounds reasonable, but it’s not a valid point. So conditions being ripe for life creating life that is able to observe the conditions. If the Earth weren’t perfectly balanced, there’d be no debate. If water didn’t have its properties, there won’t be life, as we know it and not say some alcohol-based organism, that could observe it. Water and the Earth is, therefore God exists? Not convinced.

Why does God have to sustain the universe? He is omniscient and omnipotent and perfectly capable of creating a self-sustaining universe which he can watch over.

2. Does God exist? The human brain’s complexity shows a higher intelligence behind it.

Once again, this sounds reasonable. It’s the problem of irreducible complexity which has also popularly been applied to bacterial flagella and the eye (both of which have been shot down). In both of these cases, further study has elucidated the processes that brought them about. The lesson we learn from this is that just because we do not currently know how, does not mean the default answer is “God did it.”

Now, this might be more relevant to the second article on “something” from “nothing”. That is not what is currently accepted theory which does not require a beginning. Besides, there begs the question of the most complex being ever with no beginning and no end… if complexity requires a creator…

3. Does God exist? “Chance” or “natural causes” are insufficient explanations.

Very small odds given many many chances over much much time can be amazing. Dig this report: NASA Evolutionary Software Automatically Designs Antenna. Regarding DNA, it’s the same argument from complexity as above.

Furthermore, everyone will agree that God is a mystery. “God works in mysterious ways.” Well, except people who claim to know what God wants. To claim a mystery is the answer is to give no answer at all. Somebody claiming that the Earth and the universe is a gigantic ant farm for immortal transdimensional aliens could argue on the same grounds.

4. Does God exist? To state with certainty that there is no God, a person has to ignore the passion of an enormously vast number of people who are convinced that there is a God.

It is a poor atheist who says with certainty: There is no God. The true skeptical viewpoint generally goes something like, “If there is no evidence, I find no reason to believe in your God any more than I believe in invisible unicorns.”

Secondly, argument from numbers is no argument. Millions of people thought the earth was flat. It doesn’t make it true. Millions of people believe in polytheistic religions, how can their beliefs be discounted? Even if it is a God (instead of many gods), millions of people believe in another religion. This argument fails in its basis and even reasoning on its basis.

5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.

This is presumptuous and does not offer any argument, so there’s really nothing to refute here.

6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God pursuing us.

When someone says they are God, you should believe them? Setting one religion apart does not make it true. How is this an argument for God existing?

[End of reasoning]

J. thinks the webmasters of EveryStudent.com might have posted this article with good intentions, but it’s really less than impressive.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by cheekysalsera on March 11, 2008 at 12:40 am

    I like the “Was There Ever Nothing / Something / Who”.

    Reply

  2. It’s written in an interesting manner, to be sure. It’s contents aren’t so great, though.

    Nobody says that the universe arose from nothing. And without that basic premise to demolish, the whole article fails to make a convincing argument.

    Reply

  3. Posted by cheekysalsera on March 11, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Well, that really depends on the criteria a reader sets for the argument in order to be convinced by it, which makes it subjective, no? Being impartial does not necessarily equate to being objective.

    Reply

  4. [long reply]

    Hmm. Are you using another definition of impartial or objective, considering both of the words in this context tend to mean “unbiased”?

    Agreed. People have different standards for how easily they’re convinced. It’s true, some people are more easily convinced. Little old ladies get conned out of their money by scams that most people see right through.

    It seems as though my choice of word might be ambiguous. My point wasn’t that the argument’s not convincing-sounding. It is written in a convincing manner, but it’s built on a false premise. Like the words of a slick politician, it’s hot air hidden behind a veneer of reasonableness.

    Take for instance the following argument. Starting from the basic premise of “toxins cause diseases’.

    I could then build an argument that says, “the environment contains toxins”, “toxins are ingested, breathed in, and so forth because the body has no natural filter against all toxins”, “toxins will accumulate in the body, as the body is not equipped to deal with these modern toxins”.

    “Diseases can be prevented/treated by detoxificiation, such as with my patented 3-in-1 Super-DetoxifiCleanEnema”
    It can sound convincing! The problem is that the basic premise is wrong so all its reasoning is pointless.

    Reply

  5. Posted by cheekysalsera on March 13, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Hmm. I meant being “impartial” as not favouring either side of the argument. “Objective” was describing how a person evaluates what is presented in the argument.

    Anw, word usage aside… just to clarify, what is the basic premise which you see as false? I thought the basic premise was that it is not possible for anything to come from nothing.

    Reply

  6. This is an article that builds from “absolutely nothing could not have existed in the beginning” to “God exists”.

    Yet, there does not have to be a beginning the way the article uses it. As for as we know, to all intents and purposes, the big bang was the beginning. This thought experiment fails to take that into consideration, and applies a false idea of “in the beginning”. As such, the basic premise is false.

    Using my example above. Few people dispute that toxins can cause diseases. Yet what is left out is the very important point that it is the concentration and amount of a ‘toxin’ that makes it toxic. Even water, taken in large quantities, can kill. By not taking this principle into account, the basic premise above of my argument is also false.

    Reply

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