As I think back on some of the more colorful characters from my former Creationist Facebook group, Bill the engineer comes to mind. Bill is your Baby Boomer uncle who at Thanksgiving dinner, just gets mad at anything you say that contradicts him or his beliefs. He is the classic curmudgeon, quick to move from verbose, asinine “sophisticated-sounding” refutations of evolution, to personal attacks, and back again.
It’s not just that Bill was convinced he was right, it’s that he took any attempt to point out he might be wrong, as a personal insult. He was hilarious!
Bill’s favorite argument against evolution was…wait for it…the Kalam Cosmological argument. Bill used his engineer’s “logic,” to walk from the first flawed premise of the argument, an argument resurrected by the Christian apologist William Lane Craig, all the way down to life on the planet earth.
I wish I would have copied Bill’s whole detailed rationale but I was kicked out of the group so abruptly I didn’t have time to collect some of the more “impressive” artifacts. So here it is at a high level. The Kalam Cosmological argument goes something like this:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
- The Universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the Universe has a cause.
Christian apologists like William Lane Craig and my old friend Bill, make the leap from “the Universe has a cause,’ to “a bronze age Hebrew war god created everything about 6000 years ago,” without batting an eye. It’s bewildering.
My usual response is, “OK, great! Then where is your evidence?”
Bill would say, “Look around you, everything is evidence!”
To which I would respond with something like, “Wow, the fact that everything exists is evidence that Unkulunkulu is real! The Zulu were right this whole time!”
This is when Bill would put on his angry old uncle hat and start with the personal attacks.
One final point on Bill. I happened to mouse over his name during one our exchanges and noticed that he earned his engineering degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. This gave me an idea.
I asked him if he trusted the professors at his alma mater. He was puzzled by the question, so I clarified a bit. I asked him if he felt as though the professors at the University of Nevada, Reno were doing their best to give students the best education they could? He couldn’t see why they wouldn’t. I then gave Bill a link to the entire biology faculty at his school and recommended he email any of them, or all of them, to ask them whether or not evolution was true. After all, if the school could hire good engineering professors, why wouldn’t they be able to hire good biology professors as well?
This tactic was of course meant to force Bill to reconcile the disconnects in his trust rubric. He clearly trusted all of the professors from his own department where he got his engineering degree, but he clearly believes all of the professors in the Science building are lying. Bill stopped engaging with me after this. I’m sure he built up an excuse in his mind that maintained his stalwart belief in creationism, but a part of me wants to believe that I put at least a dab of WD-40 on his old engineering mind.