Taking Professor Stick to the Woodshed

A Deflating & Escaping Atheism hangout responds to Professor Stick, with a great video summarizing modern atheistic and scientism/materialist arguments.

The video begins with the usual intros and noting that Escaping Atheism is back after a 2 week hiatus. Max Kolbe discusses his serious technical issues, which required four trips to the repair shop.

Rob mentions that Mr. Spark, a regular commenter and fan, requested that Deflating Atheism and Max Kolbe take on a response video by Professor Stick. Professor Stick responded to a short video of Professor Alister McGrath, an atheist molecular bio-physicist who eventually became a Christian. Before watching clips of Professor Stick’s response video, Max Kolbe discusses Professor McGrath’s background in more detail. Rob and Max discuss the potential difficulties of the format and they begin the video.

In the first clip, Professor McGrath discusses his background of loving science as a teenager. He felt that religion was superstitious and anti-science. As he learned more about science, he realized that both science and religion were more complicated than that. Professor Stick responds with a series of questions starting with “What do you mean, more complicated than that?” Rob and Max observe that he doesn’t have questions, but rather a series of assertions, stated as questions. They also observe the angry attitude within the questions.

In the next clip, Professor McGrath notes that science cannot answer a whole range of questions, including purpose and identity. Professor Stick responds by agreeing that the science can only answer questions about the material world, but ends with a series of assertions. Rob and Max note the quantity of assertions in his response. They also note the lack of knowledge of his assertions, particularly on the nature of God.

Rob notes from a different conversation with an atheist that materialist do not respect science either, as science cannot prove or comment on questions beyond the material world.

Moving onto the next part of the video, Professor McGrath states that he wanted to go beyond science and try to answer questions that it could not. Professor Stick responds with another rapid fire series of assertions.

Rob notes that Professor Stick is not allowing Professor McGrath to even finish his argument before interrupting with his own thoughts. Rob and Max point out that there are many modern assumptions and assertions that we make that are not provable, such as the concept that past events are reliable indicators/predictors of future events.

They discusses specifically the assertion that people made up the idea of a higher purpose. Rob and Max flesh out the discussion and refute the idea that coming to take on a religion voluntarily, as Professor McGrath has, as insincere action reliant on others. Max Kolbe discusses a past interview with Sy Garte, a molecular biologist and a future interview as examples of atheist scientist who come to the conclusion there is a God during the course of their work.

The next clip has Professor McGrath stating that people tend to ask these deep types of questions and states that science simply can’t answer them, unless it goes beyond it’s natural sphere. In response, Professor Stick states that such questions can come out fear and assumes that answers such questions only lead to delusions and false comfort.

Max points out that his pre-suppositional atheism does him in every time. Max and Rob discuss the new assumption that atheism is the rational, default position and why it’s even easier to make the argument that the delusion works the other way. That is, atheists have every reason to fear that a power out of their control might judge them and they’d rather not deal with it with a comfortable delusion.

Rob mentions his impressions of atheists from his extensive discussions of atheism. He believes that atheists do take a form of comfort from atheism, concurred by Max.

Professor Stick’s reaction to the next clip from Professor McGrath is that a)anything outside of science is unknowable, b)if it is knowable there’s infinite number of ways you could learn about it, and c)choosing religion as way is just choosing propaganda.

Max and Rob discuss at length the obnoxiousness of the statements and why atheists are disliked. Then point out examples of what you can know without science. Rob mentions his new “go to” argument when asked about “Which God?”, which is all religions could be wrong and there could still be a God. Max agrees and mentions that a-religious people often believe in God.

Max points out the definition of God and that it’s the force driving reality, “the thing that makes the universe go”. Rob and Max discuss the observation atheists tend to produce the talking points that ignore the discussion, which Max calls the “atheist clown car.”

The pair restart the video and summarize the section. Professor Stick asks why Alister McGrath choose to investigate Christianity, rather than other religions Max and Rob point out there’s a lot of truth in Christianity and it maybe that Professor McGrath investigated what made sense to him. Rob mentions that worship services do not explain the basis of the faith. Max suggests that Professor Stick investigate teleology and prime mover.

Max and Rob tackle the idea that everything can be reduced to physics as both unprovable and leads to contradictions. Further, Max states that the conclusion there is a God by anyone is a reasonable conclusion and that the problem of multiple religions/viewpoints might be easily reconciled.

The video is restarted and Professor McGrath defines theory as a model of looking at the universe and how Christianity ultimately made much more sense to him. Professor Stick claims that atheism is a negative, not a way of obtaining knowledge, and that religion is not reliable at all in obtaining knowledge.

Max and Rob discuss the basis of science – a fixed universe run by laws – and the idea that the Christian West in particular is uniquely suited to such study as compared to pagan religions. Max states that science requires the faith based assumption that the laws of physics will continue to operate as they do.

Max mentions how long it takes to respond to atheist videos. Rob concurs and points out that they often just wear you down with assertions. Rob then tackles Professor Stick’s repeated idea that religion and science are both “methods of discovery.” Rob has never heard any religious person frame religion as a method of discovery. Instead, religion is the conclusions after attempting to discover the truth.

Max points out that those conclusions are in fact rational ones, based on the evidence. The existence of irrational Christians in particular does not make the information or conclusion false. Rob believes that quite often Christians don’t have ready made answers after being hounded. Max then recounts his period of initial belief that wasn’t a period of time where he could defend his beliefs.

Rob offers up an example of debating creationists and that he’d probably reach a dead end because he doesn’t have all the arguments pertaining to his beliefs. Max discusses his experiences and irritations with creationists.

In the next clip, Professor McGrath states how religion made science made more sense. Professor Stick assumes he means intelligent design and dismisses it. Max observes that Professor Stick has made a statement of faith, that nature orders itself. Rob points out that it’s an illogical belief with no evidence.

Professor Stick’s responses continues on with attempting to refute the idea of intelligent design by noting the inefficiencies of the universe. Rob asks what percentage of fine tuning would count as being intelligent design. Max then points out that this as “seems like” argument that atheists indulge in frequently.

Max observes that the humans are the median size of the universe and suggests that maybe the universe is made for humans. Max offers that Professor Stick has a narrow and confining view in his atheism.

Rob notes that he and Max are referencing science a whole lot more than Professor Stick. He then discusses studies where, when shown beautiful pictures of nature, people tend to feel closer to God or have more theistic sense.

Rob and Max discuss the role of beauty in historic Christianity and move on to the concept that healthy humans naturally believe in God. The ponder why we might have evolved to hold on to supposed delusions.

The last clip of Professor Stick discusses the concepts that while studying science is good, we need as many scientists as possible. An intelligent creator for the universe would only be studying a predictable narcissist.

Max begins his response by pointing out the general decrease in science quality as the quantity of scientists has gone up. He also notes that if your goal in studying science is genocide, that might not be good. Max connects the rise of atheism, disbelief in objective truth and lowering of overall science quality.

Rob mentions again the lack of understanding and respect for science when atheists attempt to conclude that science says there’s nothing beyond the material world. Max moves the discussion to scientism, the worship of science as a pseudo-religion.

Max changes topics to a portion of the video that was not shown. Professor Stick discussed the process of becoming an atheist. Max notes that if you can think your way into atheism, you can think your way out and that atheism is a mind numbing ideology. Atheism is not a lack of belief, but a foundational belief that is a conclusion.

Max offers that most scientists through history have believed in God. He discusses how a Jesuit Priest came to look for evidence of the Big Bang by reading Genesis. Rob mentions that the modern scientific method with formal peer review is an invention of Christianity.

Rob and Max ask a series of questions about how what part of our knowledge “advances” us beyond a Prime Mover? Max encourages people to set aside the Jesus question of Christianity and just get to the point of exploring a Prime Mover. Rob challenges people to assume *every* religion is wrong but look into God anyway in a serious way.  Max states that it’s possible to believe in God and eventually find a religion that is compatible but with scientific worldview, but his of little “o” orthodox Christianity in particular is not a requirement.

Max wraps up by stating again that they don’t hate Professor Stick, but would love to talk if he’s ever moved to do so. He discusses a new video on the Escaping Atheism YouTube channel. Rob wraps up with some new activity on Deflating Atheism.