Hello and welcome to this week’s installment of The World’s Worst and Most Useless Class! If you’ve been following along in my Apologetics 101 series (here and here), then you’ll know that I signed up for this class to learn a thing or two about Christian apologetics and arguments for God that I could expect a Christian to use against me. You’ll also know that I’ve learned neither of these things. Actually, I’ve learned nothing. Instead, I’ve watched my teacher make outrageous and unfounded claims about secular humanism and science, and I’ve watched my classmates diligently take notes on his every word without batting an eyelash.
In my first Apologetics 101 post, I took the most dumbfounding things that my teacher said over the course of the first week and compiled them into a list. My second post outlined some of the general problems with the class itself and my professor’s teaching style that emerged over the next four weeks. This post, however, will focus on one single class session. That’s right, he said more unbelievable, offensive, and flat-out wrong information and biased opinions in one hour than he did in four weeks. See for yourself: here are some of my direct quotes from my teacher and his PowerPoint from this week’s lecture entitled “Intro to Humanism”.
- “Am I biased towards Christianity? Of course I am, it’s the truth.”
If it were the truth, then you wouldn’t need to be biased towards it. You would naturally and rationally conclude it to be true with no bias at all, just because it makes sense and is true. Kind of like evolution.
- “All knowledge requires faith.”
- “Faith in reason must precede all other faiths.”
- “Philosophical naturalists make assumptions based on faith.”
My teacher pushed this point throughout the lecture more than any other. His goal was to explain to the students how they should respond if a humanist were to make the claim to them that their Christian belief is based solely off of blind faith. Time and time again he went back to the old “Well, you have faith in your own reason!”
I’m not an expert on philosophy, and I don’t know everything about fallacies, but I’d say this is one if I ever saw one: my teacher holds up an object (he has done this using a piece of paper once and a pen once) and asks a random student: “What is this?” The student responds, “It’s a pen.” He says, “How do you know that?” The student isn’t sure how to answer. My professor says “You’re just making an assumption based off of faith! Your faith that this is a pen is no better than your faith in God!”
First of all, knowing what he is trying to do, if I had been the student called on, I would have said, “Well, it depends on what feature truly defines it as a pen. It looks like a pen, it feels like a pen, it writes like a pen, and it clicks and has ink in it. So I’m pretty confident, based on those observations, that it is a pen.”
But that’s beside the point. The problem is that he compares faith in an unseen and unobserved (and supposedly unobservable) and untouchable and unearthly yet extremely specific deity with belief in something that can be directly observed. I suppose I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I believe that everything I perceive is 100% accurate, but I have sufficient reason to trust my senses over something I’ve never seen, heard, or felt, and I might argue that no one ever has. He made another comment about trusting scientists or other humanists who also have fallible senses, or having faith in evolution. I know that “having faith in evolution” sounds wrong, but if you want to put it that way, then so be it. At least there’s evidence of it. It’s more reasonable to have faith in something that can be scientifically demonstrated than in something that cannot.
- “The big bang theory is ONLY A THEORY!!!!!!“
- “It requires a great deal more faith to believe in the spontaneous generation doctrine of humanism or the randomness of all nature.”
No, my friends, this is not a quote from Ken Ham. These are both direct quotes from my apologetics teacher, who has a doctorate and is a pastor of two churches, whose class is costing me thousands of dollars. I don’t think I should need to explain to anyone just how or why this is so disgustingly wrong, but if you want me to, let me know in the comments, and I will explain it to you there.
- “Humanists hate intelligent design more than anything and get really really mad when people put it in [public] schools. Why do they care so much if it’s really just a silly theory?”
First of all, I would like to point him towards the time five minutes ago when he got extremely worked up about the big bang, which he referred to as “only a theory”. Why does he care about it so much if it’s just a theory???
Second of all, intelligent design is not a scientific theory. It was not discovered via the scientific method. It was “discovered” when people were upset that they couldn’t teach the Genesis creation story verbatim as science and history in their public classrooms, so they made up “intelligent design” as an alternate idea to teach to children so that creation would still be represented in lessons on origins. Creationism is not science. It should not be in science classes. If you believe that your religion is true, teach it in your church. Don’t teach it to the rest of our kids at school in their public science classes. Why is this so hard for people to understand?
He pointed us towards a book by Michael Behe that supposedly sparked the intelligent design movement called Darwin’s Black Box. Hearing the name of the book reminded me of a blog post I read a few months back about intelligent design and why it shouldn’t be in science classes or the science section of public libraries. Admittedly, I thought the post was about Darwin’s Black Box, but it actually focuses on a book by Stephen Meyer called Darwin’s Doubt. It’s an informative and intriguing post nonetheless, and I encourage you to check it out here.
The suggestion to read Darwin’s Black Box ended Friday’s Apologetics lecture, but I want to end my post with a tangent that my teacher took earlier in class about how much he hates science.
I’ve mentioned before how my teacher often expresses his hatred towards science vis a vis its nature of changing as new evidence emerges and information that we once thought was true gets modified. In his free time, he’s a bird expert, and as examples he will often accuse scientists of not being able to predict every time with 100% accuracy the migration dates and patterns of every single type of bird. If scientists can’t accurately predict that, how can they predict anything more important, like evolutionary claims?
His example today, though, was that scientists are constantly pushing back the dates that they believe the earliest humans existed. I, of course, find it quite fascinating that we still continue to find new evidence of where we came from and when modern humans first arrived on the scene. You can guess that my professor doesn’t see it that way, though. He actually got himself so worked up that he was yelling in class as he expressed his anger that paleoanthropologists can find a bone the size of a piece of chalk, use its DNA to determine that it is a hominid bone, and use that to estimate the time that modern humans walked the Earth.
He ridiculed the way that National Geographic goes on for pages and pages about the discovery of these tiny bones and their implications, and he mocked the way that those in the scientific community see such articles and applaud the scientists in awe. He of course made the claim that it must take more faith to arrive to the conclusion that a tiny bone can tell you when human history began than it would to believe in the story of Adam and Eve. He even asked students in the class to back him up. Most nodded along when asked “Isn’t it unbelievable that scientists are praised for this and that people really trust them?”, but if he had called on me, I would have said “Well, they probably used the scientific method, and they are probably experts on what bones go to what animal and how to test how old a bone is, so I’d say yeah, it is actually pretty amazing that they are able to do that, and yes, I trust their ever-changing words.”
I’m starting to be more and more visibly angry during this class. When he made the comment about having faith in the doctrine of spontaneous generation, I actually facepalmed a little bit. I’m going to try to do what I can to set my professor straight with some of these misconceptions; I plan to write my term paper as an informational real introduction to secular humanism, written from the perspective of someone who is not so biased in their own views that they can’t see straight. For now, though, I’ll continue to sit through class as the undercover atheist and gather as many notes as I can.