Questions For The Evolutionist.

Another list of questions that are supposed to stump “evolutionists” in our tracks.  I think I had to use wikipedia to answer like one of them (the one about the chronology of insect and flowering plant evolution), the rest I answered off the top of my head.

 

Here goes:

 

“If the topic of evolution has never come up in your witnessing encounters, it undoubtedly will at some point.  Christians need not be intimidated by it.  Instead, here are some questions you can ask to help an evolutionist think through these issues while gently (yet effectively) exposing the irrationality of the theory itself.”

Actually all you are doing is highlighting your own ignorance and hoping the other person will be as ignorant as you.

“1)  Where did the space for the universe come from? 2)  Where did matter come from?”

I combined the two because the answer is the same – I don’t know and neither do you, and this has nothing to do with darwinian evolution.

“3)  How does a strictly material, constantly changing universe give us immaterial, universal, unchanging laws (such as laws of logic, science, and morality)?”

The universe isn’t necessarily “strictly material”, material is just all that we can empirically observe and know to exist objectively.  And the “laws” of logic, science and morality are all three very different abstract concepts.  Laws of logic and physics are deduced from observation and are tentative, “laws” of physics are only constant and unchanging in principle, and many have been shown to not actually be universal or constant, such as newton’s “laws” of motion which break down at high speeds or the “law” of non-contradiction which ceases to apply in a universe where time, size, and velocity are relative.  These “laws” are man-made symbolic representations of the world, and they are no more immutable than we are.  If you mean why does the universe have the most basic known properties that it has, see the answer to questions 1 and 2.

“4)  How did matter get so perfectly organized?”

It didn’t.  If you drop the word “perfect” (bodies that get cancer and planets with fault lines that cause massive disasters that kill millions of people are hardly “perfectly” organized), and just ask how did matter get organized then my response is that the question is too vague – ask a more specific question and I can help you, but I am not going to spend an hour describing dozens of atomic, biological, chemical, geological etc processes that produce different things.  How a mountain forms and how a snowflake form are two very different things that require different answers.

“5)  Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?”

See the answer to questions 1-3.

“6)   When, where, why, and how did randomness become non-random?”

I don’t know that it ever was non-random, or that anything even is non-random.  We call things random when we lack the ability to predict them.  In principle with enough data and enough smarts anything is predictable and non-random.

“7)  When, where, why, and how did life arise from non-living matter?”

Plants turn non-living matter into living matter every day, non-living matter and living matter are the same thing – the iron in your blood and the iron in the steel of a golf club are identical.  If you mean how exactly did life begin, we don’t know since the earliest life would not contain the fortified cell structures that are hard enough to fossilize and leave remnants, so the fossil record goes cold around 3.4 billion years ago.  And the earliest fossil life is in the oceans to answer the where question..

“8)  When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?”

Learning in the sense of mental activity evolved several billion years later, the first life would’ve simply been a chemical process.  A germ doesn’t need to learn to reproduce, and is incapable of learning anything.

“9)  Why would natural selection favor sexual reproduction over cell division, which is more efficient and less costly genetically?”

Sexual reproduction allows an individual to gain successful genes from many lineages maximizing it’s chance of survival and allowing a population to adapt to many selective pressures simultaneously.  The mathematical speed of evolution is greatly enhanced by sexual reproduction which is evident in many evolution simulation programs you can download free to experiment virtually with the math of natural selection and virtually “evolve” things (including in some cases virtual functional machines).

“10)  With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?”

Other cells presumably.

“11)  Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and, thereby, decrease the chances of survival?”

As opposed to what, just dying out?  I somehow think natural selection would favor starvation over automatic extinction.  And natural selection is not a conscious process of species thinking about what they want or deciding what is best.  As a science nerd who knows about this stuff it is always depressing to read rants like this posted by people who are bashing science and who, halfway through their rant betray the fact that they literally have no idea what the science they’re opposed to is about at all.  Natural selection is the process of genes getting passed on at different rates because the genes themselves are useful or harmful, no thought or logic or “hmm, this would be a good idea” required.

“12)  Which of the following evolved first and how long did it work without the others?:
(a) The digestive system, the food to be digested, the appetite, the ability to find and eat the food, the digestive juices, or the body’s resistance to its own digestive juices (stomach, intestines, etc.)?”

The food to be digested obviously, since predation is one organism eating another organism the organism must first exist before predation is an option.  As for the rest, any organ system does not begin in it’s most tricked out, complex state any more than the first computer had a DVD drive.  And just as my computer needs a hard drive to function but the earliest computers didn’t need a hard drive to function modern configurations of organs can become irreducibly complex by gradual modification the same way technologies do.  As for the stomach resisting it’s stomach juices it doesn’t, your stomach lining digests itself perpetually.

“(b) The drive to reproduce or the ability to reproduce?”

Sex drive is a behavioral mental characteristic of higher animals which would not have been present in early microbial lifeforms which lacked brains just like bacteria do.  Early life would’ve reproduced by chemical reactions just like mindless microbes do today.  

“(c)  The lungs, the mucous lining to protect them, the throat, or the perfect mixture of gases to be breathed into the lungs?”

There is no “perfect” mixture of gases, the atmosphere is not consistent anywhere on the earth’s surface.  And the answer is the throat, followed by the lungs and then the various add-ons to them.  

“(d)  The termite or the Trichonympha symbiotes that live in its intestines and actually digest the cellulose?”

The termite – it would logically have had the ability to digest it’s own food and later lost it as a result of the effectiveness of the symbiotic relationship, the same way humans btw have largely lost the ability to digest food since the trillions of bacteria in our intestines do such a good job of it.

“(e)  The plants or the insects that live on and pollinate them?”

Plants pre-date insects by many millions of years and flowering plants evolved several hundred million years after the first insects.

“(f)  The bones or the ligaments, tendons, blood supply, and muscles to move the bones?”

Bones first emerge in the fossil record in the cambrian period, before which there were plenty of animals that could move around and thus had muscles, blood etc.  Though if by blood supply you mean a heart pumping blood our four chambered heart evolved from the three chambered heart of the reptile which evolved from the two chambered heart of the fish, which evolved from simpler species like crustaceans, some of which have hearts and others do not.  The first heart was most likely simply an accidental by-product of musculature, every time a fish wagged it’s tail it pumped a little blood – this mimics the lymph system in humans today which circulates all the non-blood fluid in your body by your muscles pressing on different parts of the body and forcing fluid from one region to the other – this is why a doctor gives you a shot near the butt, aka the gliteus maximus – the largest and most often used muscle in the human body.  Short of injecting it in to a vein it’s the most effective way to circulate it through the body.

“(g)  The nervous system, repair system, or hormone system?”

I’m not sure what you mean by “repair” system but I suspect the answer is the nervous system, though I could be wrong.  I don’t know a lot about the evolution of hormones.

“(h)  The immune system or the need for it?”

Well the first virus would necessarily pre-date the first immune system since natural selection is reactive, not pro-active.

And yes, I also know which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Posted in Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Oh Irony…

“Irreducible Complexity Remains Unrefuted” 

The title to a blog I just saw… which had disabled comments so nobody could refute it.

The previous blog by the author was entitled “Christianity Is Not For Cowards…”

Comments also disabled.  How brave.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

A Debate With An Arrogant Religious Person.

I generally don’t post links to peoples’ blogs or point out bad behavior individually (since I prefer to reason with people, however unreasonable they may be, rather than use strong-arm tactics like humiliation), but I make the exception of doing so when someone blocks me as a way of winning an argument.  At that point I say screw them, lets shine a light on their bad behavior.  Anyway, this guy (highwayman2013) disabled comments after making a response to me which accused me of things, criticized me, asked me questions and so on, so I’m posting the bulk of the conversation here if anyone might find it interesting, with a link to the original below.  To make it easier to read I am posting my in-line responses which quote his comments in full:

“Sorry, you cannot reconcile creationism with evolution, which many are trying to do, nowadays.”

If by creationism you mean biblical literalism (in particular as it applies to genesis), you cannot reconcile it with almost any aspect of the physical world. Evolution has been made into the poster child for the anti-science movement by the leading ID organization the discovery institute (see their leaked manifesto the “wedge document”) but it by no means is the only aspect of nature that conflicts with a literal theology. Everything about geology, astrophysics, regular physics, biology, geology, anthropology, paleontology, genetics and many other fields points to an old earth where things like planets, plants, animals etc were not created as-is or in a brief or similar period of time. Yes, science is at odds with these scriptural accounts, but only if you take them literally which you need not do. Many people do however because they’ve built such a huge theology on these assumptions over centuries that to go back to the drawing board would be too embarrassing or too personally dangerous that many refuse to even consider the possibility that their founding assumptions are wrong. It’s the “we can’t question x because if we do we have to re-evaluate y and z” logic. It’s the same reason the catholic church covered up for, protected and enabled child rapists as a matter of policy when this was so obviously immoral by any reasonable standard – they were too afraid of the damage it would do to the perception of the church and the clergy as being somehow better than everyone else – if the pope or a priest is just a person like a president or a senator, just as prone to corruption or evil or insanity, then why go to the catholic church and not just make your own church or read the top theologians and figure it out for yourself? Their theology was more important to them than their ethical obligation to the truth, and to their parishoners’ children. Just as to many creationists their theology is more important to them than objective reality.

“Certain liberal ministers will cite evolution as possibly God’s way of creating other than “ex-nihilo”… out of nothingness and instantaneously, in an attempt to placate their humanist critics.”

A god could create atoms ex-nihilo and let abiogenesis occur or even create early life forms ex nihilo without conflicting with evolution science.

“It’s another way of saying that God can’t do what a god innately should be able to do, which is create something from nothing RIGHT NOW.”

Couldn’t a god create something any way it pleases? If so then why is your method the only reasonable one? Isn’t it also arrogant to suppose to know the mind of god?

“This is finite thinking.”

You have that backwards, evolution is the form of creation that produces an infinite and ever-growing number of kinds and types of life, probably on trillions of worlds throughout the cosmos, which by the way are also forming every second of every day. YOUR worldview is that a god made a much smaller, finite number of forms of life on one planet. The scientific view is not the one that’s finite, yours is. If you ask me the universe as science reveals it is a much more impressive creation than the “poof, a squirrel – poof, a dog – poof, a giraffe”, I-dream-of-genie-esque notion of creation.

“You attribute the God-given gift and trait that enables adaptation as evolving into completely different life forms”

This is a common misunderstanding of the similarity of different forms of life – a “completely new life form” has not evolved in the entire history of multi-cellular organisms. Plants and animals are not “completely different” from each other, not even close. The reason people think we are is that the similarities are on a cellular and genetic level, and our eyes do not have microscopic resolution. A plant doesn’t share parts of our anatomy in common with us like arms and legs, but our arms and legs and the leaves of a tree share parts of their anatomy in common like having nucleic cells with similar structures and mechanisms. So evolution does not require the production of a “completely different” form of life – everything is a modified version of what came before and is built on what came before.

“and there has never been a successful experiment to show any new life forms are coming about as a result of adaptation as it is described in the scientific

There have been many. Speciation (the splitting of one species into two distinct species) is common and well observed, all four kinds of speciation have been observed. You might also want to look into “ring species” for another interesting example of observable macro-evolution. By the way try to find a mention of ring species on any creationist website, they don’t touch the subject with a 10 foot pole. As for experiments showing that evolution produced new “kinds” of life these generally fall into the domain of experimental predictions made in the fields of genetics which support common ancestry and paleontology where the existence of many necessary (according to evolution) ancestral forms with unique features never before seen in nature were specifically predicted before they were discovered – some by darwin himself. So your statement is just not accurate. Unless you mean “nobody’s ever seen a dog give birth to a cat” in which it’s not accurate on a whole other level, since that has nothing to do with any actual biological process.

“Most scientists do NOT believe in a creator, although an increasing number are beginning to.”

Most scientists do, look up any statistic on belief in god among scientists and the rate is that of a healthy majority. Please cite evidence that the rate of belief is increasing. I know religious websites often promote the image that everyone is coming around to their point of view and there is a groundswell of support for things like creationism, especially among scientists, but this is usually BS.

“The empirical evidence for a creator is all around us, in the complexity of life.”

This is an argument from ignorance. It’s like saying that lightning proves the existence of thor. The problem is nobody ever showed that lightning comes from thor or from a deity, and of course now we know it doesn’t. But not knowing what lightning was or where it comes from seemed like a solid case for the existence of thor, just like not understanding how life began seems like a solid case for yahweh – but ignorance is not a sound basis for an argument. Show me a god creating life or throwing lightning bolts and I will believe you, until then I’m going to say “I don’t know”. Also we’ve made advancements in the field of abiogenesis, but it’s slow going due to the nature of the chemistry involved. We know how many of the components of life came together on their own but we don’t know what the initial form of life was like to speculate further.

“I once described to a group of antitheists their evolutionary theory, summing it up thusly… akin to me setting down my car keys and allowing enough time to pass so that they must inevitably evolve and morph into a BMW. Not a Ford… a BMW. In the same way it is explained to us by evolutionists that single-cell organisms HAD to develop to their present form as complex organisms, even though they functioned/function as well as fully developed complex life forms in modern times.”

Ironically you and darwin are actually in agreement here – this was one of the ideas darwin was attacking with his theory, the idea that species were evolving “just because” and were always spontaneously improving. Darwin thought this idea was absurd, partly because there is no trait which is useful in one environment but is not harmful in another, meaning there is no objective standard by which a species can be called “better” than another – a lizard is not better or “more evolved” than a polar bear or visa versa, each is simply better adapted to it’s environment. And the species that tend to gain complexity are the ones that leave one environment and have to adapt to another, then some leave that environment and have to adapt again etc, etc. This explains the co-existence of so-called “higher” and “lower” forms of life.

“These are not evolving… indeed, they don’t have to, they have everything that they need to live and reproduce NOW without going through any successive or future stages of development.”

This is true, in a vacuum. But when multiple species are competing over finite resources and some species use other species as resources this no longer is the case. If a cheetah needs to eat gazelle to survive it will tend to catch the slower ones and the faster ones will survive, meaning natural selection will favor variations which make the gazelle faster as a species – and just like automobiles a faster one is usually more complex than a slower one. What you are saying is analogous to saying that two companies that made computers in the 1980′s made computers that worked perfectly well so they couldn’t have possibly improved. The nature of competition whether in a capitalist society or an ecosystem produces niches – some company will make cheaper but inferior computers and survive that way, another will make really good but expensive computers and survive that way, and the ones that make computers that don’t work well or aren’t priced right will go “extinct”. So too some species will survive by being fast to avoid predators, others will survive by being small to evade them, others by being big and tough to fight them off, or a million other survival strategies. It’s probably no coincidence that the so-called “cambrian explosion” which produced a huge diversity of life in a relatively short time began with the first predation – teeth evolved to eat other creatures and were then modified to bones and shells to protect species from predators etc, in a kind of evolutionary arms race that is going on to this day. One species by itself will not evolve, but two or more competing species will, because of competition. Similarly one nation by itself will never develop nuclear weapons or stealth bombers etc, but many nations going to war over resources for centuries will develop these things.

“Indeed, the primordial environment would not have allowed any such evolution as it would have been quite hostile and volatile and geologic and atmospheric changes would occur too quickly for any organism to adapt. it would simply die off.”

I can refute this with one word – lysol. It’s designed by us with our big brains to kill bacteria yet it only ever kills 99.9% of it. Some always survive. The same is true of the center of a nuclear explosion, it kills almost all the microscopic life, but some always survive. The reason is that if you have trillions upon trillions of micro-organisms some will always get lucky. If every germ on a kitchen counter had a lottery ticket, some would win the jackpot. It’s just math. The most devastating events in earth’s several billion year geological history, including meteor impacts releasing more energy than a nuclear holocaust and leaving 60, 80 and hundred mile wide craters did not manage to kill even all animal or plant life, let alone microbes. You would practically have to turn the planet into molten slag to kill all the little germs, so I don’t buy your argument.

“Yet, we’re supposed to believe that millions of years are required for such changes to occur.”

What do you mean by “such changes”? Cancer cells adapt to chemotherapy and radiation in days and weeks, not millions of years. Evolution can and does happen quite rapidly. One of the earliest evolution experiments was done in the 1800s, a scientist took seven cylinders of identical bacteria and heated some of them up to the point that the germs started dying, then to the point that they were all dead. Once he had that figure he did the same thing again, only this time did it gradually over several years. Not only did the bacteria survive the second time, but now when he lowered the temperature they began to die – they had adapted to the heat so well they could now not tolerate the cold. If he had lowered the temperature incrementally the reverse would’ve happened too. And no, this scientist was not millions of years old by the end of the experiment.

“The educational system is secular by nature and design.”

So is the game of checkers, that doesn’t make it hostile to christianity.

“You’re talking about people of faith crying persecution, when all I’ve been seeing lately are atheists… usually students crying that their atheistic views are not being taken seriously… bitching about their lot in life. Case in point, I was threatened with a lawsuit for countering a local ‘atheist’ (really an antitheist) and his contention that “Merry Christmas” signs shouldn’t be allowed on city buses during the holidays, that it was an insult to atheists and (lol) other ethnic groups… whom, incidentally, when polled, all came out in favor of the traditional expression. In fact, nearly every atheist… TRUE atheist I’ve ever encountered, sees nothing wrong with the practice! There may be shit-disturbers in Christian ranks, but, they are easily countered and balanced off in Darwin’s crowd. This particular guy, however, is simply a whiner who finds fulfillment dragging others through litigation.”

So you’re saying that all atheists ever do is whine about persecution, then you say that you’ve never met another atheist that did this and that those that do are not true atheists? Okie dokie. And there is a big difference between separation of church and state and finding the expression offensive. I don’t want the government endorsing any religion, but I don’t care if you say merry christmas or every store in town has a 20 foot neon sign saying it. This is why it’s only ever an issue when it’s done with taxpayer money on public lands. Bear in mind it would be equally offensive to me if atheists went around using public funds to put “there is no god” signs on public property, but atheists generally don’t do such things.

Bear in mind also that atheists are a minority and are often treated like second class citizens, and when we are constantly told this is a christian nation we are made to feel like this is your country and not ours. If that were not the case I’m sure that atheists in general would be less worried about signage at the post office or the city hall.

“Science is a legitimate field of endeavor, it helps us understand the created world. It only becomes confusing when God is left out of the equation, Him being the author of all science.”

Science is a man-made series of methods for testing ideas, not the world it is used to try to understand. People often confuse science (the scientific method) with nature, which is what one reads about in “science” books. Even if a god created nature science is all us. As for leaving god out, the reason scientists leave god out is that they can’t test god, so to present ideas about god as science is dishonest and unethical. Silence is not the same thing as rejection though, scientists also don’t publish papers about whether a movie was good or bad “scientifically” either, because it’s subjective and can’t be empirically verified by the tools of science. But you don’t see movie buffs crying persecution from the scientific community because they didn’t come out in favor of x, y or z film.

“Interesting you term science as a philosophy. I rather like that term, at least in the sense of it relating to theory. However, natural science can’t be philosophical, it must be tangible. It must be testable.”

I said it’s the subset of philosophy that deals with physical claims about nature. It is in other words the non-abstract field of philosophy. And the word theory as it’s used in science doesn’t mean a guess or a hunch, atoms, gravity and germs are all “theories” too.

“Even God asks us to test Him, to see if He is real and that He speaks truth. (Malachi 3:10)

And forbids us to test him (Luke 4:12). One of many, many, many, many, many contradictions.

NEXT POST:

“Luke 4:12 refers to Deuteronomy 6:16 where the Lord rebukes Israel for their idolatry in worshiping pagan gods. It does not refer to the simple testing by faith of God’s truthfulness. Christ was conversing directly with Satan, who was testing Christ to go outside of His trust in His Father and perform actions that were not mandated. It’s a poor example to use as the two have no direct bearing upon each other. There is no contradiction, being there is no relation between them, applying instead to individual circumstances.”

This is your theology, my point was that there are countless ways to interpret scripture and passages to cite in favor of virtually every theology imaginable. You think your theology is correct, so does everyone else.

“Also, I do not say atheists whine about everything,”

You kind of did.

“I believe my point was ANTI-theists make it their ‘religion’ to oppose Christianity and believers at every opportunity, at least 100% of those I’ve encountered do. ”

That is the definition of being anti-something.

“This particular numbskull does nothing but attack Christianity and other faith-based cultures, it’s becoming a psychosis with him. He’s been on secular radio shows and even his atheistic and agnostic hosts think he’s over the top in his vendetta.”

Okay. You know there are lots and lots of crazy religious people saying and doing terrible things, right? If we played a game of listing extremists of either group, I suspect my list would be much longer than yours. Which I am not saying makes one group better or worse, I just find it hard to sympathize with you having to put up with one antagonistic douchebag when I live in a nation which seems full of them.

“I explained that a true atheist would not worry about other ideas that conflicted with his/her world view as there isn’t any threat to them that they can perceive.”

In my experience anti-theists do perceive a threat from religion. I can hardly think of an evil from history anywhere in the christian world or a minority that has been persecuted where christianity and the bible were not chief instruments of that evil/persecution. And the trend continues today.

“Any atheists I’ve dealt with online or personally don’t mention religion at all unless you broach the subject, then have little to say.”

Most atheists are former theists in the US and they generally have lots of opinions about theology, religion etc in my experience.

“Point of fact, he also says as you that Christians target atheists… that must be your perspective and it’s a unique one, given my experience.”

Something like 7 states in the US have it written into their constitutions that an atheist is not allowed to run for public office. In the other 53 states a grand total of 1 admitted atheist has ever been elected to the US congress, he was not openly an atheist when he was elected, and after he was “outed” he promptly lost his seat when his opponent made “separation of church and state” an election issue. This despite roughly 25% of the country being non-theists. None of them can successfully run for office because almost all of the christians in the country (59% of the population) say that under no circumstance would they vote for anyone who doesn’t believe in god, usually due to the belief that not believing in god makes one selfish and immoral.

Check this out:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-12-10/religion-atheism/51777612/1

Remember the ken ham/bill nye debate awhile ago? Ham’s creationist ministry is the largest in the US – here’s what they put up on billboards across the country:

http://crooksandliars.com/files/uploads/2009/06/answers%20in%20genesis_88485_0.jpg

I can go on like this all day.

“I guess we travel in different circles. I couldn’t care less if he lives a godless life, it’s just he can’t seem to shut his trap about how I live mine.”

Yeah, religious people never do that.

“Now… THAT is a contradiction, my friend, his being so hypocritical as to claim he is singled out when he goes looking for a fight. He usually finds it and usually loses on both sides. I’ll agree that faith-based religions of all creeds are a majority… maybe that should tell you something by itself?”

That the earth is flat was once a majority opinion, as was that it went around the sun and that the sun was very small and so on and so forth. A belief’s popularity has no bearing on it’s accuracy. But if you think it does what do you make of the fact that theism is rapidly declining in virtually every advanced nation on the planet?

“Is it possible in your mind that the majority are idiots for not ascribing to theories that are comparatively youthful in our societies?”

Someone doesn’t have to be an idiot to simply be wrong. And people almost always believe in a religion due to the psychological power of indoctrination at a young age (which is why only 1 in 11 children ever believe something different than what their parents taught them in terms of religion regardless of what religion they were raised in), which has nothing to do with intelligence. As for more recent ideas being somehow more dubious and more ancient beliefs being more valid, what other standard would you ever apply this logic to but your own preferred religion? If you get sick are you going to have a doctor bleed the demons out of you or are you going to avail yourself of the most up to date research and medicines?

“I don’t condemn your Missourian maxim for wanting to see proof for everything, so do I. I simply found the proof that I required by comparing the two ideas… one being that everything happened by sheer accident, even the most elemental processes,”

That isn’t a belief, it’s a caricature used to summarily dismiss literally everything we know and can prove about the world. To ignore thousands of avenues of evidence, millions of tests and tens of millions of observations about nature and pretend it’s some vague philosophy about randomness.

“as opposed to intelligent thought forming and guiding those processes to what we have now.”

This is like believing in a massive global conspiracy rather than trying to understand the complicated reasons things actually happen in politics, sociology, group psychology, economics and so on. Yes, one being or organization invisibly pulling strings somehow is always going to be simpler, but it’s also vacuous when it comes to explaining a mechanism and is always impossible to test. Not to mention that when it comes to an intelligent designer who designed the designer? Who created the creator? If you shrug it off and say it doesn’t need a creator or designer then you’re just ignoring the problem that the creator/designer supposedly solves.

“I don’t believe any being, especially God, needed to create something and then suddenly lose interest and consign said creation to time (itself, a creation) for it to finish the work, not when He has the power to carry the work through to it’s completion.”

I would think it would be considered arrogant for a theist to pretend to know the best way for god to do things. And either way that’s the sort of universe we live in whether it conforms to your ideal image of creation or not.

“This whole idea fits so conveniently in with the ideas proposed by those that would love to erase any and all knowledge of a creator within society, and there are those that do.”

The idea of a creator fits perfectly with the idea that the idea of a creator should be erased from society?

“Communism is based upon humanist ideas and do not see religion as anything other than an “opiate”.”

Organized religion is pretty awful in my opinion whether there is a god or not.

“I’ve never promoted or even entertained the idea that yours is a Christian nation. I know the truth about your history, it’s Masonic roots, etc. I could say a lot more on this, probably will, later. Given that, secularism more than compensates for the influence religion plays upon society.”

There are many who try to re-write our history to make it one though.

“I’m not really opposed to religion being kept out of schools, that’s what homes and churches are for. However, it should be allowable to mention faith in schools without retribution.”

As a matter of policy, in the US students are perfectly free to do so, though of course anyone can potentially be mistreated by their peers. The idea that students are barred from mentioning god is, at least in my country, a myth that is used to promote the idea of christian persecution.

“And, why are things like “alternative lifestyles” (homosexuality, paganism, witchcraft, etc.) being taught or discussed while Christianity is taboo? What do these have to do with obtaining credentials for a trade or other discipline or for understanding the natural world?”

I think that the standard, assuming a topic is age-appropriate, should be simply facts. Teach facts about any topic and if the topic is belief, teach facts about beliefs, and not just one.

“Again, these bear an less than incidental relationship with Christianity, which soundly condemns these practices.”

So does divorce, when is the last time you heard some evangelist on tv do a tirade about that being mentioned in school in a positive light?

“Your “Lysol” argument isn’t a good one. The world we are talking about supposedly took billions of years to form. For a great portion of that time, your molten world was a reality, given the testimony of your scientists. Nothing could survive for that time, even afterward, at least nothing of a complex design.”

Yes, the world was initially molten, but the post-molten period covers most of it’s history. And life thrives around volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean. Either way you gave no argument and basically just said “nuh uh”.

“You’re always talking about adaptation in terms with evolution. I can agree that viruses mutate and ‘evolve’ in response to attack and environmental change, however, this doesn’t make them new life forms by any stretch of the imagination.”

I explained in-depth why this conception of evolution was wrong.

“Also, as you’ve said, there hasn’t been any new life form discovered.”

No, I said that evolution is descent with modification and that it never produces a 100% new creature, it is always a modified version of what came before.

“Molecules splitting does not imply a creative process, merely a duplicative one requiring an original template that did not exist before God created the original “ex-nihilo”.”

And you can prove this?

“I dunno, when I was young, watching lightning never made me think of a deity, Thor in particular.”

That is because you were not raised to believe in thor. Similarly seeing a cell would probably not make you think of yahweh if you had not been raised to believe in yahweh.

“Later, I understood him to be the god of thunder, not lightning, probably trumped by Poseidon, who was the god of storms. Depends on your perspective, whether Greek, Roman, etc.”

Some believed zeus was the god of thunder or lightning, others thor.

“There, again, we have the reasoning that just because something exists, it must have pertinence toward some long and convoluted process for being.”

No, we actually have a fossil record that covers 3.4 billion years, almost all of which shows the development of single-celled organisms. The idea of common ancestry was not extrapolated based on some philosophy, it can actually be tested extensively many different ways.

“I’ve always agreed that Christian beliefs are faith-based and essentially unprovable EXCEPT through the eye of faith.”

That is not what prove means. Proof means you can demonstrate something to the satisfaction of any reasonable person. To prove means to show. I can show you that the earth is round so you will agree with me that it is. This is why ideas in science gain acceptance which ignores ideologies, political philosophies, religious beliefs and geographical borders, because science sticks to what it can show.

“Science makes assumptions that smack closely with dogma,”

Science is the process of continually testing ideas and only ever tentatively accepting them as true. Dogma is stating a belief as absolute fact. They are opposites.

“assuming that natural processes have always been constant to allow the dating methods you refer to analyze the age of the earth and the changes that supposedly occurred to happen.”

That natural processes have been constant is not an assumption, it requires countless things to be true which can be tested innumerable ways.

“I always get a good laugh whenever someone tells me that I shouldn’t take scripture too seriously… and, you know, religious ones are worst for it! Whenever they come across something that conflicts with some pet notion of theirs, suddenly it’s not a big deal. Even though everything else is cut and dried truth.”

I find it ironic that your comment begins with you replying to me saying that something in scripture contradicts your view and you dismiss the scripture as not a big deal… : P

“Well, how many of us can prove whatever scientists swear to us is truth,”

Every single last person on the planet, if he or she would bother. That’s why it’s credible, ANYONE can repeat any experiment or study and confirm the results, and of course, scientists and amateur scientists do, all the time.

“yet we accept their books (which are always being updated, the Bible never changes)”

Yeah, I mean it would be crazy if they came out with some sort of new edition of the bible that contradicted half of the things in the old text, that would totally invalidate it, wouldn’t it? Or if they kept re-translating it in lots of new ways with lots of different translations that put new spin on the text. Or if they ignored passages once they were no longer socially relevant like the ones about beating your slave and executing people for working on a saturday. That would totally destroy the validity of scripture, right?

“as fact, there’s no “can’t take it seriously” about them. As for contradictions in scripture… there are none, and I’ve read the book through and through, cover to cover, several times. End of story.”

There are contradictions literally on page one – genesis 1 and 2 give two very different and conflicting versions of the creation account. Just because you weren’t looking for them don’t mean they aren’t there.

“People may read whatever pleases them into a passage, however, to make it look like they want it to, but, when studied in context, there is no disagreement.”

Or people can rationalize anything.

“The latest round of attacks on scripture have various heretofore unknown ‘books’ coming to light that were supposedly written as part of the original manuscripts and appear to contradict canon scripture… all bullshit. They never surfaced in the thousands of years previous, suddenly they appear? Lol. Sorry… this ol’ boy’s been around long enough to smell a scam when he smells one.”

Ancient texts have been found in archeological digs many, many times, including scripture which agrees with the traditional cannon.

“We have a society that is controlled by evil men and they have no interest in surrendering their claim on humanity to God. They can’t kill God, but they can try and erase Him from the minds of men so that they are ultimately given up and forsaken to their beliefs. I had some individual just the other day try and tell me that certain elitist organizations didn’t exist, that they were fiction. Funny… those “fictions” often dominate the news and are registered on various websites and forums online and are written about in books and are historically accepted. Amazing, though, what some people will expect you to believe! They should at least do their research before they try running a line of bullshit, not everyone is so engrossed in our careworn North American lifestyle that they just accept or outright ignore whatever is told to them. Some will raise a question or two!”

No comment.

“I submit to anyone that if the Bible isn’t truth and it’s principles aren’t God-breathed and applicable to any age in history, ours included, then NONE of it is worth heeding, including those passages that preach tolerance and understanding and peace… “thou shalt not kill… adultery”, etc. None of those are relevant, even in our age,”

If hitler said the sky is blue it would be true regardless of the source of the claim. And ideas like love, kindness, forgiveness, fidelity etc are not original to the bible, so why would the bible’s supernatural claims being BS invalidate them?

“so we’re free (as evolutionary theory suggests) to evolve in whatever way we can and at whomever’s expense. The strongest are the only ones fit to live.”

Evolutionary theory points out the fact that the best adapted individuals tend to survive, science describes nature it doesn’t prescribe moral philosophy. Injecting moral philosophy into scientific ideas is ignorant at best. Not to mention neither darwin nor the vast majority of life scientists today share(d) these views.

“Interesting that the Bible suggests the opposite – that the meek shall inherit the earth?”

And a rape victim should be forced to marry her rapist.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence in the works of man.”

The bible is among them.

“I surely live in man’s world and use his inventions… someone would be quick to point those out! However, I do not trust either implicitly. I’ve been let down too many times by men and technology. Then to say that I should accept musings about our beginnings when I have no other avenue but their say-so?”

Science is not based on dogma, it is based on repeatable tests and predictions.

“That, as opposed to a document that not only gives a believable explanation for the human condition, but also offers a solution?”

You mean the quran? No wait, you must be talking about the book of mormon, right? The torah? Stop me if I’m getting close…

“Well… what do you think I’m going to gravitate toward?”

A bronze age myth about a vengeful, blood-thirsty god that was later warped into a loving peaceful god more to the liking of modern societies.

NEXT RESPONSE:

“Let’s start with the last comment… since you seem to get off on long treatises..”

My response, barring quotes from yours, was virtually the same length to what I was replying to.

“Vengeful”? “Bloodthirsty”? You are gradually leaving your analytical composure and leaning toward what usually underlies these types of discourses… an intense hatred for anything spiritual.”

I don’t consider vengeance and genocidal hatred to be “spiritual” things in any positive sense.  The god of the bible is, however, literally described as being vengeful, and literally demands bloodshed to be appeased many times.  Though you will disregard this however because as you have made clear the text itself is irrelevant, it’s only what it evokes in you that you consider to be scripture.  So the bible can say kill the fags and burn promiscuous daughters and wipe out anyone who isn’t like you all day long and it doesn’t exist as far as you’re concerned.  The bible only says what you personally happen to agree with and be positively moved by.

“You would take any sign of reticence on my part as a victory, I’m sure.”

Actually I take your unwillingness to grapple with almost anything I said as an annoyance.  Not one I am unfamiliar with, unfortunately.

“However, while I’m not going to go line on line like you, I’ll just say that I tend to lose patience very quickly with your type of ‘discussion’. I learned this, too, from some of the Crooks and Liars crowd, whom I hobnobbed with, online, there and on other blogs.”

I was sarcastic a few times, but you were glib and arrogant too.

“I think my experience with atheists, anti-theists, etc., has some significance in this matter. Your source mining may or may not have some validity on a few points, but, again, I assure you that my experiences with these groups is as I said it was. I’m very well aware of how some religious people act, I’ve locked horns with those as well. Generally, though, I don’t believe that they are out to eradicate secular society OR religion or label God as an “opiate of the masses” as many antitheists would love to do, as you seem to be fixated upon. You seem to have an answer (as do they all) for every point, why, then, do you not have an answer for the world condition as it stands… or maybe you see a perfect world? Hey… the religious can’t take ALL the credit for that, you know!”

You are speaking too vaguely for me to even know what you are talking about or what your point (or your question) is.

“If you want to get insulting, I could point you to some other antitheist blogs and their content, where I’m sure you’d find the inspiration you might be lacking… however, I don’t wish to increase their readership or otherwise do them any particular favors, seeing their attitude toward myself and/or people of faith.”

Yes, you hate some anonymous anti-theist/atheist bloggers that you refuse to otherwise mention or describe.  I get it.

“What’s laughable in all of this is you’re so busy trying to impress me that you know virtually nothing of my background…”

Trying to impress you?

“that perhaps I am also willing to investigate spirituality as a possible answer to man’s dilemma over an almost universal resignation to man’s puny effort?”

I think people are generally decent and that society is improving by leaps and bounds.  Any serious study of history will dispel the idea of the “good old days” and our idyllic, white-washed notions of the past, and reveal a situation where every present social ill was significantly worse only a few decades ago, and almost unimaginably worse a century or more ago.  Moreover I do not think that supernatural belief systems make people more moral or more caring or make society healthier overall.

“I lean toward spiritual tones having grown up in a atheist home with atheist siblings whom are still atheists. Though not technically a Christian, I’m an intense ‘believer’, getting more believing with every encounter with folk like you, certainly from having to deal with your bullshit world as long as I have.”

I don’t even know how to take that.

“Your arguments, many subjective, many sources claiming authority that they, themselves, bestow”

You dismiss many diverse ideas on diverse subjects with vague generalities like this, which is such a blow-off.

“(as I said, my experiences often conflict with ‘authority’) upon themselves, are as prone to debate and scrutiny as are theological ones. It’s YOUR preference to believe them as it is my inclination to tell you they are full of shit.”

And if I had any idea what the hell you are talking about, that might mean something.

“It was and is readily apparent you know little about the Bible, except that you have all of the antitheist talking points down pat… and those are all wrong.  None of you read in context, you only see acts performed by God and his followers and judge them by your liberal 21st Century righteousness.”

I’ve known more atheists who have read the bible cover to cover than I’ve known theists who have.  The reason is that almost every atheist in my country today is a former theist who read their bible in context and found it’s contents shockingly in conflict with the romanticized version of it as depicted in christian pop-culture.  On average US atheists actually rank highest in biblical and religious knowledge, and non-mormon christians rank lowest, according to recent studies like this one, by a respected christian organization:

http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey/

Yes, sometimes scripture is quoted out of context, and websites like “skeptics annotated bible” are often guilty of this, but even on the worst websites this is not always the case and many passages are awful regardless of the context.

“It would be laughable if it weren’t so insulting. I could tell you that Darwin was close to being judged an idiot, he performed some rather weird acts prior to his death.”

I don’t know what that even means, if you are referring to his death bed conversion that is a long dispelled myth.  As it stands he is widely considered one of the greatest minds that ever lived, and as someone who has read Origin Of Species I agree with that assessment.

“He blamed the God he once served for the death of his daughter, from disease, as if God had any hand in it. “

Setting aside that any omnipotent, omniscient god by definition has a hand in everything, I can find no evidence of this and it appears to be one of many cases of malicious gossip against darwin.  I once read an article about how darwin came up with his theory as a way to find meaning in death in order to cope with the loss of his wife – I googled and found out his wife outlived him by like ten years.  I have also read similar claims about his daughter anne, but it is a well established fact that the bulk of Origins was written prior to her death.

“Modern scientists mock and laugh whenever they encounter a argument that counters their religion of non-belief. Bill Nye is a first class asshole… I’ve seen his ‘debates’… not impressed. The guy’s an idiot, you want my take on the matter. But, he happens to curry the favor of folks like you, so that makes him okay to you. I wouldn’t trust him to take out my garbage and get it right.”

This is pathetic.  I said nothing positive about bill nye and you are just boasting about your own prejudice and hatred of all things different from yourself.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Genesis attacked… the two accounts are one and the same, same author – God – as revealed to His servant, Moses, through His Spirit. That’s nonsense to you, however, you are bible-illiterate.”

Nowhere in the bible does it say that genesis was written by moses, and modern biblical scholars do not widely share the belief that the first three books of the bible had the same author.  In reality genesis 1 and 2 are two different versions recorded in around 900 BC from oral tradition and it’s original author or authors are completely unknown.

“I can tell you a factual story and change one or two items in sequence without destroying it’s validity, using poetic verse.”

So the two accounts do conflict, but who cares is your argument.

“It’s still pretty obvious that the main theme running throughout both accounts is that God CREATED and that He is the author of life on this planet. Like this thread, though, if one were devoted entirely toward discrediting something, it would be impossible to prevent that from happening.”

Your position is that the bible does not ever even once contradict itself.  I pointed out that it does, to which you said yeah but that doesn’t count.  Either it contradicts itself but it doesn’t matter because you can still work out the gist of a story, or the meaning is non-literal or however you want to interpret it, or it is literally 100% accurate.  But you can’t maintain one position then revert to the other whenever a discrepancy is brought up.

“I’m going to help you out, here, in ways you’d have never thought of. Maybe you can pass it on to your antitheist buddies and it’ll give them something else than the same old tired rhetoric to operate on…”

I’d appreciate it if you could cut out the “you people” crap.  I have treated you as an individual and have not made a single generalization, negative or otherwise.  I would appreciate the same consideration.

“Any truth in scripture is spirit-breathed and (wait for it!) spiritually DISCERNED. That means, in your case as with those others I mentioned, you don’t have a snowball’s chance of ever gaining any perspective other than the militant one you now have.”

Yeah, the KKK agrees.  That is why you will never, ever be able to argue with them because they will always be convinced that you’re simply not discerning the passages correctly.  If you were you’d see clearly that jews and blacks are the enemy.

The problem with this view (that our minds can produce absolute truth which trumps logic and evidence) is that it produces closed reasoning and puts us in a comfortable ideological bubble where we can believe whatever we want about anything and are immune from realities like empirical observation or human suffering ever imposing on those beliefs unless we arbitrarily choose to let them.  A process of belief which in my experience is more toxic than enlightening.

“I used to study the Bible and always ended up putting it down, not understanding anything in it except the really obvious stuff like “Thou shalt not… whatever.” I also like quips from Proverbs like: “The fool says in his heart there is no God.” Shit like that.”

You don’t seem to have changed much in that regard, since you clearly still harbor a lot of stereotypical views about “people like you” (to quote your reference to me a few lines down).

“Later, when the time was right, and after asking for enlightenment, God revealed His message for me. It was like night and day, and life was good, I wouldn’t have needed anything else in it, at least not from the perspective of people like you. Yet, I came to know other realms of existence through study of the word, aided by the Holy Spirit. I almost feel sorry for you, knowing exactly where you are and you know nothing about where I am.”

You tell me I know nothing about you, then proceed to imagine you know everything about me, my views of scripture, what I have and haven’t read, and even what I have and have not experienced.  The fact is atheists are perfectly capable of having so-called spiritual experiences and of understanding profound, deep and esoteric wisdom.  Most atheists I know, including myself, are very spiritual – we just don’t make supernatural assumptions about the nature of those kinds of experiences.  Spirituality is a universal thing like love and joy and perception of beauty that anyone can potentially experience, which is why if you bother looking for it virtually identical profound, beautiful moral concepts are to be found in virtually every culture in the world.  I have read passages in the bible and gotten deeper meaning from them, but I’ve also listened to songs and gotten deep meaning from the lyrics which I later found out was unintentional and was not what the author had in mind when they wrote it.  Like an ink-blot test we can see patterns where there are none and vagueries of scripture or philosophical texts can be excellent for prompting introspection and deep thinking and produce profound realizations whether those realizations were intended by the author.  The idea that some magical being or force is causing these realizations is all the justification you need for using your own conclusions as their own support, but that doesn’t make them true.  That you get something out of a passage doesn’t mean everyone will get the same thing or that that was what the author intended.

“It’s late and I’ve been on the road all week. I could finish this with a ‘glowing’ account of the society man has wrought for us, how it tasks me no end to run around helping prop up the pseudo society that Satan has devised for us in place of the one that God originally instituted… but, I’ll be dealing with that sort of thing in future posts, why spoil the ending?”

Yeah, it was so much better when women were bought and sold as property and the height of medicine was bleeding people to get the demons out of them.  When churches had torture chambers in the basements society was so much more enlightened.  Oh woe is me, how far we’ve fallen!  ::sob::

“I’m sure you’ll be fascinated by more exciting tales from the book of the brothers Grimm, wot?”

?

 

[end]

 

http://highwayman2013.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/faith-a-higher-form-of-math/#comment-32

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Hooray For Catholicism.

I read a post that talked about how much the catholic church has been a friend to science and the arts and cited examples like the father of the big bang being a catholic priest and various catholics who have done good things.  I had this to say:

 

Concluding that catholicism is good because look what good catholics have done over the centuries (ie the billions who lived under catholic rule or were catholic by default as a result of centuries of conquest and coercion) is kind of like saying white people are great because look at all the clever things ever done by white people.  As if their being white somehow makes whiteness the cause of their great idea or achievement.  It would make as much sense to list catholic mass-murderers and bigots and slave owners and serial killers and conclude catholicism is evil.  

The time the catholic church reigned supreme is known as the dark ages, it is marked by virtually no social or technological advancement whatsoever and it lasted over 1500 years.  And the period after it lost absolute power and fractured into a thousand shards is known as the enlightenment period and is marked by a massive surge in social and technological advancement.  It took humans (under catholic reign) over 15 centuries to go from hand copied books to the printing press.  Once catholicism was supplanted as a source of unquestionable moral and social authority it took us less than a single human lifetime to go from horse drawn carriages to landing on the frigging moon.  And now forty years later I have a phone in my pocket that is a thousand times more powerful than all the hardware on that space capsule (and ground control) put together.  One could argue that the catholic church overall did more holding back than pushing forward.  A lot more.  But look a catholic did a smart thing, hooray for catholicism.

I then felt a little bad for dumping on his post and added:

“Btw I’m sorry if I come off as a little rude, I just believe in historical context and don’t like cherry-picking.”

My comments are currently awaiting moderation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Why I Love Religion.

The following is  an email I got explaining why my very polite and sensible comments on a few blogs at creationscience4kids.com (a wordpress blog) were not approved.
The letter begins:
Dear agnophilo,

I haven’t been ignoring your comments, just asking God to help me know how best to talk with you.

Here’s the problem: I run a site for families and kids. Your avatar, which you have every right to keep, could be nightmare inducing. So, I decided it wouldn’t be good to approve them just because of that. I’m sorry.
Well, then what to do with your comments? I’ve copied them out and can address them here if you like, or if you have a profile without a potentially nightmare inducing picture, you can post again. It’s up to you.

Oh, one request. I’m a busy mom and don’t have the time to deal with a whole bunch of extra issues all at once. It’s also universally a sign of a troll to flood someone with comments. If you bring up one topic at a time I’d be delighted to discuss things with you.

While you’re considering, you might enjoy a couple posts I’ve done as well:

http://creationscience4kids.com/2013/09/30/kinds-relatives-the-ark-you/
http://creationscience4kids.com/2012/07/03/potterys-tree-of-life/

Oh, yes, if the best you can give me is people taking the Bible out of context so they can continue doing things God repeatedly tells us He hates, you aren’t trying very hard. God often warns us in the Bible this will happen, so why would I throw out the Bible because its prediction on human depravity proves true? (in response to the- southern slave owners used Noah’s curse on Canaan to justify their treatment of African slaves)

Sincerely,

Cheri [last name edited for privacy]

——–

To which I replied:

You view me as being frightening and trollish because I don’t agree with you and am not in your social group.  My avatar (which has gotten me accused of everything from being scary to being a devil worshipper exclusively by religious people, I have never once gotten a similar comment from a secular person in several years of using it on two blogging sites) is in reality a picture of a several hundred thousand year old, non-human fossil which I made my avatar because I am a science nerd and I find the idea that there were once human-like species other than us walking around to be amazing (and humbling).  Are you honestly going to maintain that a picture of a fossil is inappropriate in a blog about evolution and science?  Ironically you maintain that humans didn’t evolve from other species like this one and that there are no intermediate fossils, but can’t tell a human skull from that of one of our not even very close relatives.  As for being a troll, I did not insult you in any way and all of my comments were polite and reasoned.  But people tend to see in others what they expect to see, so you saw a scary, malicious person that children must be protected from.  And by the way I commented about the theology you were promoting having been the justification for the slave trade for so long because a) it’s true, and b) I thought you might find the information relevant and interesting (I would want to know that).  Nowhere did I say “aha, gotcha!  In your face!  Take that christianity!”  But you reply as though that is what I did.  I left a comment on your blog adding some information to it, not everything is an attack or an argument.

If you find people who believe differently from you frightening and threatening maybe you should look inward before finding fault in others.

——

To which she replied:

Hi, Mark,

“But people tend to see in others what they expect to see,”

I would ask you to reread what I actually said about your avatar and the nature of trolls. How you came to the conclusions you did about what I think of you based on the words I used is beyond me.

BTW, I read something interesting this morning: Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

—-

So I leave it to you, the readers.  Am I misinterpreting their intent?  Is the bible quote they gave me about how believers are wonderful and non-believers are evil really a warm embrace of her fellow human being?  Or am I once again being dismissed and condescended to in the name of jesus?

By the way my avatar of a fossil is “nightmare inducing” but here’s a picture from one of her blogs:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Jesus, The Crucifixion, Religion, and Human Beings.

This is a comment i left on someone’s blog replying to various aspects of it which I thought worth copying and pasting into a blog.  I am reading the believing brain by micheal shermer and thinking a lot about how the mind works which probably influenced this a bit, but I have also thought about what makes myself and others tick for years, so not that much.  Anyway, here goes:

A few things occur to me – one is that jesus did not suffer more than anyone ever suffered – crucifixion was an extremely common way to kill people in that time and place, so much so that jesus died next to more than one person who was being executed the same day in the same town, at least according to scripture.  To puff it up as this rare singular thing is just theatricality.

As for dying for humanity I have never in my life found any sense in this and have asked countless christians how this could possibly make sense and have never gotten an answer beyond being ignored or condescended to.  A father who can’t forgive me for something that happened before I was born that he set into motion and could’ve prevented unless someone else (again before I was born and which I had no hand in) brutally murdered his son.  That contradicts ever notion of morality I have ever accepted in my life.  Both vicarious guilt and vicarious redemption are evil in my opinion, and any father that would be more inclined to forgive someone after they brutally murdered his son than before would be considered by you, me and most people as being totally insane.  Yes if someone died for me it would be profound (even if it didn’t make sense), but the plot of any science fiction story would be profound if it were true, as would the claims of any religion.  The problem for me is that nobody has established to begin with that the claims are true.

The idea that x religion or x god or x philosophy can not only make you happy but is the one and only thing that can fulfill you and make you happy is very common across many religions, political beliefs and cults.  Scientologists are desperate to ascend the ranks because they’re convinced that it’s not talking out painful memories that is therapeutic, but that getting “audited” and having evil alien souls removed from you is the only way to make you feel better.  There is in this exclusive attitude toward happiness an air of desperation.  I have experienced my share of pain and sadness in life and nearly ever day I discover new things about myself and about what it means to be a person and a man and what makes me happy or sad or depressed.  So I can understand the appeal of thinking that there is one singular thing that can make everything better – and even the placebo effect this belief might have in actually raising one’s spirits.  But the people I’ve met who believe this way to me do not seem particularly happy, or any less prone to feeling sad or unloved or unhappy than any atheist I have ever met (which is to say that we all feel unhappy, not that atheists do moreso than anyone else which I do not believe is the case).  I am by no means an expert in human happiness or the mind, nor do I make any claims about the soul if such a thing exists, but to me the idea of a “god-shaped hole” in one’s heart that only god can fill is like saying there’s a pizza shaped hole in your stomach that only pizza can fill.  Someone who was once hungry, his mouth full of delicious pizza, might easily become convinced of this fallacy.  But as far as I know the human mind is more complicated than that, and while we may be able to count the basic emotions we can feel on one hand the things that can evoke them are innumerable.  The idea that only one thing can make you happy or content is as absurd as the idea that only one thing can make you afraid.  We’re just not built that way.  And this kind of “our religion has a monopoly on meaning, morality, truth, happiness, etc” sort of thinking to me is a shackle that enslaves people rather than a truth that enlightens them.

As for communication with god, as I have said we are complicated beings full of conscious and unconscious thoughts and impulses and instincts and motivators and behaviors and someone who is told a god is communicating with them can easily look inside themselves and find something to label “god” and confirm the claim.  God sent me my dream last night, when I read the bible and ideas pour into my head that’s god sending them.  When I see someone hurting and want to help them that’s god nudging me toward the right path.  Whereas someone in the KKK who feels something very different and comes up with different conclusions when they read the scripture believes they are being similarly guided.  And an atheist when they read a secular text and are moved by it or feel compelled to do something sees it as their own inner workings, the various aspects of their own psychology.  I am sympathetic to the latter view if for no other reason that these inner workings can be shown to exist in other species and can be shown to lead people in many different directions under different circumstances.  Is god talking to you but the head of the klu klux clan is mistaken or lying when he says something simliar?  What about a christian from your own church who prays about the meaning of a passage and feels god is giving them a different interpretation?  Some people are lying when they claim to be in communication with god, con men exist and we all know this.  But most people are not lying, they genuinely believe.  And most of them hold to a different theology to everyone else based on that belief.  So are we communicating with god, or talking to ourselves?  I have for a few years now wanted to perform an experiment – take a thousand catholics and a thousand protestants of one sect or another, and ask them all to go home and earnestly pray and ask god if their sect is the true sect, if the other sect is, or if neither sect is.  Then have them come back the next day and anonymously write the answer they feel god guided them toward on a piece of paper.  If say catholicism was the true religion would they all spontaneously become catholic?  And if god is communicating with people why hasn’t something like that happened already?  Wouldn’t everyone just be catholic or not be catholic.  Are all catholics or all non-catholics lying when they say they feel god’s influence?

I just don’t buy it.  This is an internal, subjective reality that does not map out into the objective world.

I could probably continue but I may have already overstayed my welcome.  Please know that it is not my intention to offend you or even to steer you toward one belief or another, but I act rather out of a general view that we should question our beliefs, whatever they are, and seek truth, whatever it may be.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Love and Skepticism And Religion.

This was part of a comment I posted on someone’s blog I wanted to share with all the other skeptics out there because it is true and it means something to me:

 

“On a personal note, congratulations for questioning. Spirituality to me, put in universal terms is simply loving something outside of yourself as much or more than you love yourself. Whether that is god or the truth or a friend or a spouse or a cause. Whether you are setting your own hopes and fears aside to courageously ask difficult questions or setting your own desires aside to change diapers and attend PTA meetings, there is something noble in it. You care more about truth than you do about yourself, and that is love and it is that love that is at the core of the best versions of every religion and philosophy. So keep it up.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments