Sunday, February 1, 2009

Understanding Religion

Some theists are of the opinion that atheists are wrong to reject Christianity and the Bible for the reason that we do not truly understand them. That is to say, how can we possibly justify saying that something is false when our knowledge of it is limited?

Apparently, only a person who knows the entire Bible off by heart in English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, as well as being familiar with the minutiae of the mainstream denominations, past and present, could be in a position to say "Well, I think it's a load of baloney".

A few flaws in this argument spring to mind.

Firstly, there are many Biblical scholars, priests and theologians who have utterly rejected the religion. Such people know a great deal more about the subject than I do, and have still found fatal faults in it. (A good example would be Dan Barker, of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who wrote a book on the subject - "Losing Faith In Faith : From Preacher To Atheist")

A second obvious problem is that the people who use the argument forget that it applies to themselves also, with regard to every other religion on the planet. Few Christians have a detailed knowledge of Hinduism, Wicca, Sikhism, or the Australian Aborignal Dreamtime. Following their logic, they have no valid reason whatsoever to reject the other religions for the simple fact that they know little or nothing about them. Unless of course these criteria mysteriously apply only to Christianity.

Nobody is justified in rejecting Christianity without understanding it completely, but Christians are fully justified in rejecting all other religions without even partially understanding them. How many standards can you count?

Some believers make the problem even more complicated, such as this example from my feedback page: "I read this webpage with interest. The real catch 22 occurs when an atheist tries to discern something in the scriptures. The only prerequisite for understanding the scriptures is that the one reading them first believes that "God is". Since you don't meet the first requirement, you don't have any understanding at all. Catch 22."

How anybody can possibly understand the Bible, were this to be true as well as the first proposition, is beyond me. It seems that a person is not qualified to reject the Bible without fully understanding it, but that person can never understand the Bible unless he/she is already a Christian. And how do you become a Christian in order to be able to understand the Bible? By reading and understanding the Bible, of course!

This merrily brings us on to the next topic - is it okay to accept Christianity whilst remaining basically clueless about it?

In a nutshell - Yes!

Remember, it is wrong to reject Jesus and God if you are missing even a single tiny piece of information about them.

But on the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to require that people of all ages, from the youngest infant to the oldest pensioner, not only accept Jesus over all the thousands of other deities, but refrain from asking too many tricky questions about Him (which, naturally, would lead to a greater understanding of the religion).

If a child runs into the room saying "Mummy, mummy! I love Jesus and He loves me! We're all going to Heaven when we die and God is looking over us!", people will smile and praise the child. Nobody would say "Don't be silly. You can't possibly say that because you don't fully understand everything about the religion. How can you know that for sure, when you've not read the Bible in the original Hebrew?!?". But if a child (or teenager, or adult) says "I've had a good think about it, and have come to the conclusion that Jesus is a myth and nothing in Christianity makes much sense. I declare myself to be a freethinking secular humanist.", then they are quite likely to receive the latter response. You could have all the theological training of a hedgehog and still get wild applause if you stand up and say you're a Christian, but it seems that atheists are required to demonstrate more intelligence and Biblical expertise than all the clergymen and theologians that have ever lived before they are allowed to publicly express their doubts.

Presumably then, the notion of accepting things "on faith" was created to prevent people learning so much about the religion that they inevitably reject it. A friend of mine told me about the students on a Theology course at his university - as the course progressed and they learnt more and more, the students tended to polarise into either complete atheists, who considered that the entirety of theism was absurd; or Born-Again Christians, who considered that everything they found in the Bible was true due to its being in the Bible.

Amusing though this all is, it doesn't get to the heart of the matter.

Atheists reject Christianity (and all the others) for a few very simple reasons. You don't need to examine every rivet on the Titanic to check its seaworthiness when you've already spotted the enormous iceberg-shaped gash in the hull.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of mutually exclusive religions all claiming to have The One Truth and divinely inspired, infallible scriptures.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of (often mutually exclusive) sects within Christianity, all claiming to have The One True interpretation of scripture. (They will also often claim that members of different sects are "not real Christians").

There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that the history and nature of the universe (and life on Earth) bears no resemblance whatsoever to the myths of any religion.

There is little or no objective evidence in favour of the existence of any deity.

There are plenty of better, naturalistic explanations for the phenomena we observe around us.

The explanations given by religions tend to only raise more problems than they solve. Most, if not all, descriptions of Deities are incoherent, meaningless, self-contradictory or refuted by simple observations (omni-benevolence and the problem of gratuitous evil, for instance).

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Once upon a time or so all good fairy tales begin (approximately 75 million years ago to be more precise) there was a great and powerful alien galactic ruler, his name was Xenu.
Xenu, being your typical galactic ruler, was in charge of all the planets in this part of the galaxy which incidentally included our own planet Earth, except in back then to Xenu and his people it was called Teegeeack.

Now Xenu had a small problem. Each of the 76 or so planets he controlled was vastly over-populated. Each individual planet had on average a whopping 178 billion or so people. He sought to get rid of all the over population so he developed a cunning plan.

Xenu took over total control with the help of some faithful renegades to overpower the good people and the devoted Officers. Then with the help of psychiatrists he called in billions of people for income tax inspections. Once there they instead given numerous injections of alcohol and glycol mixed up specially to paralyse them. Then they were put into huge space planes that closely resembled present day DC8s (except they were rocket powered instead of relying on propellers).

These DC8-like space planes then flew to planet Teegeeack (Earth) where the paralysed and drugged people were unceremoniously placed around the bases of active volcanoes by their hundreds of billions. When they had completed stacking them in the region of aforementioned volcanoes then H-bombs were lowered in to place inside the volcanoes. Xenu then detonated all the H-bombs at the same time and everybody was killed in an instant, solving in one step his over crowding and over population problems..

Alas, the story doesn’t end there by any means. Since everyone has a soul (known as a “thetan” to Xenu and his chums) then you have to trick souls into not coming back again. So while the hundreds of billions of souls were being blown around by the nuclear winds cause by the H-bomb and volcanoes Xenu had special electronic traps made that caught all the souls in electronic beams (the electronic version of fly-paper).

After he had captured all these souls he had them crammed into boxes and taken to a few gigantic cinemas. There all the souls had to spend days watching special 3D motion pictures that told them what life should be like and many other confusing things. In this film they were shown false pictures and told they depicted things known as God, The Devil and Christ. This process is named “implanting”.

When the films ended and the souls left the cinema these souls started to stick together because since they had all seen the same film they thought they were the same people. They clustered in groups of a few thousand. Now because there were only a few living bodies left they stayed as clusters and inhabited these bodies.

As for Xenu, the Loyal Officers finally overthrew him and they locked him away in a mountain on one of the planets. He is kept in by a force-field powered by an eternal battery and Xenu is still alive today.

Thus ends the story.

Because of Xenu, and his actions today everyone is full of these clusters of souls called “body thetans”. And if we are to be a free soul then we have to remove all these “body thetans” and pay lots of money to do so. And the only reason people believe in God and Christ was because it was in the film their body thetans saw 75 million years ago.

Does this make perfect sense to you or does it seem like the product of a very badly written cheap 1950’s science fiction paperback?

To me, at least, it is the latter but to the people who follow $cientology it is the former.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Not so Itelligent Design

Contemporary creationists have a propensity to keep away from direct mentions to religion, and the Bible in particular. The notion of "Intelligent Design Theory" is in the rising, as it can potentially be presented as a nonreligious theory of supernatural creation. Fortunately only a small number of people are naive enough to be conned by this, as it is blatantly apparent that it is just traditional good ol' Biblical Creationism in sheep's clothing. The people advocating it, however, know that it can utilised as a method of reaching their goal of forcing religion into the science classroom, if possible in place of genuine scientific theories about such subjects as evolution and cosmology, but if that fails, at the very least it may be afforded "equal time" in a independent fashion, so that, in theory, students can make up their own opinion. This petition to "equality" is what they hope to use to get such twaddle on an equivalent footing with conventional, real and proven science.

The devious and deceitful purpose appears to be to manufacture an apparently scientific version of Creation that can be foisted into science classrooms, and also signify to students that science is not only well-matched with, but actually absolutely supports, the biblical doctrines of Creationism as well as their own individual philosophy. The idea is that religious parental groups can hopefully then begin to pressure schools into teaching a more "scripturally/scientifically balanced" account of biological and cosmological beginnings, and religious students then can ask questions such as to why they are not being taught the theoretical alternative science of Intelligent Design.

Examples that have often been used to reveal apparent design consist of:

1, The "irreducible" intricacy of the human eye (the fact that Darwin dealt with this in The Origin Of Species, and did not consider it a problem, is more often than not overlooked. Strange.)

2, The "irreducible" complexity of diverse proteins and molecules, e.g. haemoglobin.

3, The apparent "fine tuning" of the universe to allow humans to exist (also known as the "Anthropic Principle"- we can observe the universe, therefore it exists for our benefit).

The proposal is pretty uncomplicated - find anything in nature that can be described as so improbable as to be almost impossible, or so complex that it "could not possibly" have come into being without a guiding hand, and you have the basis for "intelligent design" - the only rationalisation is that a supernatural, super-intelligent entity guided the creation of the universe and all living things. If the student is of a religious attitude, this all makes a great deal of sagacity and will be enormously appealing, and it is plainly a very short step from "supernatural designer" to "God", and the God of Christianity in particular.

Therein lies the flaw, regrettably.
Let us say, for the sake of disagreement, that a multitude of things are revealed which cannot possibly be explained by any known science. Unquestionably strong confirmation that the Bible is indeed correct and we should all immediately fall to our knees and worship Jebus as our personal Lord and Saviour?
No such luck - let's scrutinize the problems involved. It makes the assumption that science will never be able to adequately clarify and explain the phenomena. Theists like to say things like "It is unreasonable to say there is no god without first having infinite knowledge" (this is along the exact same lines as denying the reality of pink unicorns without first having the opportunity to search every cubic inch of the universe). This can clearly be turned around, into "It is unreasonable to say that science will never solve this, without first having infinite knowledge of science." Basically the theist is saying that we should just accept that "God did it" and think no further on the matter. Scientists, on the other hand, would rather say "We don't know - let's try to find out." Unexplained is NOT the same as inexplicable, although creationists would prefer us to believe otherwise. ID is one last desperate attempt to find a God of the Gaps, before science closes that final gap.
Let's take the assumptions one step further now, and for the sake of argument assume that science can never explain how the universe came to be, and some sort of powerful supernatural (or at least, unknown) involvement is necessary.
1, Who is to say that the Creator is still around? Valid possibilities include:
a, The Creator created the universe, and then simply left it alone. He neither knows nor cares about any life in it (this is a form of Deism).
b, The Creator ceased to exist at the moment of creation. He converted himself into the physical universe, and effectively died at that instant.
c, He died of boredom waiting for anything interesting to happen.

2, Why just one Creator? Why not two, or a dozen, or a million? If you are going to invoke the supernatural, then the idea that there is an individual creator for each and every sub-atomic particle is just as plausible as there being one big one that made everything. Many religions have numerous gods, each being responsible for a different part of the universe. What makes a single creator a better explanation than multiple creators? It is also possible that one Creator made the universe, which was then taken over by another omnipotent critter - a caretaker deity.

3, It is an unjustified leap to assert that there was a single creator, and that creator must therefore be God as described in the Bible. Again, the creation stories of every other religion, extinct or extant, are equally plausible in this context.

4, What reason is there to think that a Creator is even remotely interested in human beings, or any other specific form of life? There are, for instance, far more beetles and bacteria that humans, and they have also been around much longer. It could be that humans (and elephants and starfish) are a mere side-effect of a great beetle-breeding experiment!

5, What reason is there to suppose that life was intended to exist? Living things obviously do exist, but life could merely be an unintended or unimportant side-effect. It may be that a Creator was only interested in making stars, and everything else is just an emergent property caused by the way the universe is set up. Alternatively, the Creator could be some sort of hobbyist who creates universes, lets them run their course to see how they develop, and then starts again with a slightly different configuration. Humans, apart from being the most important part of Creation might merely be a tick on his checklist ("Experiment #1782638, life developed : Yes").

6, Should it be demonstrated that a Creator does exist, and is interested in us, it still does not follow that we are required to bow down and worship it. Would it even want us to? Why create the enormity of the universe merely to have a single solitary planet briefly inhabited by cringing sycophants?

7, Life existed on Earth for hundreds of millions of years before humans evolved, and the amount of time we have been around is utterly insignificant relative to the age of the universe. Were we to exist for a hundred million years ourselves, life will still go on afterwards without us, and the universe itself has many billions of years left in it. It seems bizarre (and considerably arrogant) to suggest that it is all here just for our benefit, or purely to ensure that humans came about.

8, If life has been "designed" from the start, which would suggest that there is some sort of guiding hand behind the processes that form life - evolution. However, evolution generally progresses by the bloody, violent and painful deaths of living things. Carnivores kill and eat herbivores, parasites inject their eggs into living creatures so that they can hatch out and eat the host alive from the inside, disease organisms inflict untold agony on many living things. Also, in order to ensure the eventual formation of specific creatures (e.g. humans), certain events had to happen - mass extinctions caused by meteor strikes, wiping out 90% of life, for example. Either not a good example of intelligent design, or the Designer just like inflicting asteroids, volcanoes, tidal waves and plagues on his dearly loved creations to ensure they evolved in the right direction. In short, the "designer" could not have found a more hideous way to go about creating life forms. Maybe he enjoys seeing pain and suffering? That would appear to be the case, judging from the evidence of life.

9, This brings us to the concept of a "Powerful Deceiver" - instead of this Creator being an all-powerful, kind, loving entity, what reason is there to think that it is not, in fact, an all-powerful, evil, hateful entity that sees life on Earth much as a child with a magnifying glass sees ants on a sunny day? Being all-powerful, it would be perfectly easy to convince people that he was benevolent, and being mere mortals there is no way we could tell otherwise (convincing ourselves that fires and earthquakes are all part of his mysterious, but no doubt good, Plan for us all). Certainly, judging by the historical (and present day) atrocities committed by followers of an alleged Creator, this is all too easy to suspect (and, of course, just as impossible to disprove as is the idea of a benevolent deity, and therefore no less valid).

10, It is even possible to postulate a more mundane Creator - an experimental physicist from a civilisation so advanced that even its most basic children's toy would appear miraculous to us, still in the infancy of science. Perhaps our entire universe was generated in an Acme Big Bang machine on her workbench, parameters carefully adjusted to allow for the formation of stars, planets and self-replicating molecules that may one day become alive. Contrived and far-fetched though this may sound, it is (again) equally as valid as anything dreamt up by the founders of any religion. It does though beg the question of the creation of our physicists own universe, but then so does the idea of a Creator beg the question "Who Created the Creator?"

These examples are not intended to show that a Creator cannot exist, but that ID theorists are quite unjustified in going from "We see design in the universe" to "The God of the Bible exists, and Christianity is the One True Religion" (or whichever God and religion they happen to believe in).
It should also be mentioned that the Intelligent Designer hypothesis has no explanatory power whatsoever. What does it solve? How does it help? The solution to an apparently (assuming, as they do, that it is forever beyond the ken of mere mortals) intractable problem is effectively this :

An unknown, unknowable entity did it

in an unknown manner

for unknown reasons.

Well, that's a biiiig leap forward in human knowledge and understanding of the universe, isn't it? Intelligent Design attempts to explain a mystery with an even greater mystery. Perhaps it would be more reasonable to simply say "We don't know, let's try to find out"...
In conclusion, in the unlikely event that Creationists (sorry, "Intelligent Design Theorists") ever come up with solid evidence of supernatural design, it would be no reason to adopt any of their religious assertions along with it. The point is, it is possible to just make up anything and assert that it can explain the unexplainable, supported only by lack of available science and lots of wishful thinking. The hypothesis of Intelligent Design not only attempts to explain everything and in doing so manages to explain nothing at all, but also raises more questions than it claims to solve, thus rendering itself worthless.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oh Hell, The Devil made me do it.

There is a special toasty corner of Hell reserved for scumbag so called non-believers like me, or so I'm told. If that's where I'm headed then I think it's only fair to cast a critical eye over the concept.
There are various definitions of Hell according to which religion you follow, and to which sub-branch of that religion you subscribe. The Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, don't think that Hell is a place of flames and torment, but simply a place outside the sphere of God's love. When you pop your clogs, good JW's get into Heaven (which may actually be on Earth anyway), and everyone else just.... doesn't. It's a bit strange and vague, but that's the JWs for you.
Most people are familiar with the common concept of Heaven and Hell. Nice people go to Heaven where they get a harp and sit on a cloud for the rest of eternity; bad people go to Hell where demons poke them with sharp sticks for the rest of eternity. Heaven is ruled by God and Jesus, Hell is ruled by Satan and his minions. Oooh, you'd better be good or you'll burn in Hellfire forever!! And you don't want that, do you?
This is all well and good, if that's where you stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, some of us have inquisitive minds and can't help but probe a little deeper into this odd aspect of Christianity.

Where is Hell?
Yes, yes, we all know there are several towns called Hell or Hel, but I'm talking about the hot place ruled by the big red guy with horns.
Is it an actual physical location? Some seem to think so. Some people believe that Hell is located at the centre of the Earth (there was even a story some years ago about Russian miners going so deep that they heard the screams of the Damned). You can understand how this belief came about - thousands of years ago, people seeing erupting volcanoes probably thought that Hell was leaking. It gave them a startling insight into the world below. This could well be how the whole Burning In Hellfire idea came about.
If there really was a huge hollow cavern in the molten mantle, I can't help but wonder why it hasn't yet shown up on geological/seismological surveys...
Others seem to think that it is on some other dimensional plane of existence - it really does exist, but not in the universe as we know it.

What happens to your body?
Back to the idea of demons poking you with sharp sticks. Hell is portrayed as a place of eternal torment - every possible torture and atrocity that you can imagine will be inflicted on you, forever. You will be in constant agonising pain for all eternity (so you'd better repent, or else).
How does this happen then? When you die, your central nervous system stops functioning and your body is buried or burnt. There is a well understood process for the transmission of pain signals from your nerves to your brain. No nerve cells, no pain.
In order to be poked by demons and feel that as pain, you require a physical body with all the appropriate nerve connections. How does this come about then? Is your body mysteriously transported from your grave / cremation urn to Hell and brought back to life again? Is your "spirit body" altered to let you feel pain in the same way as your long-dead physical body used to?
What if you're a masochist and really quite like it? After all, if you don't have a real body, you could even start suggesting new and interesting tortures for the demons to try. "Hey, this pitchfork stuff is getting a bit dull, don't you have any red-hot pokers covered with ants instead? Ooh, ahh, up a bit, YES! YES!!!"
It could also be argued that the threat of eternal torment loses effectiveness after a while - if a person who actually believes in Hell commits a number of serious crimes, what is to stop him from thinking "Well, I'm going to burn for eternity for killing those ten people... What's going to happen to me if I kill another ten and rob a few more banks? It can't get any worse - where's my gun?" If he commits twice the sins, he can't exactly suffer for two eternities, can he? Or would he experience double-infinite pain?

How do you get there?
What you actually have to do in order to go to Hell varies wildly depending on your interpretation of scripture. For instance, some people say it doesn't matter what crime you commit - as long as you truly repent before you die you'll go to Heaven. On the other hand, some catholic nuns give the impression that you'll suffer eternal torment just for looking at them funny or making jokes about the Pope's silly hat.
All this can lead to some bizarre inconsistencies. A good example is the recent case of Karla Faye Tucker (and I mean no disrespect to the families involved when I use this as an example). This case made headline news in early 1998 - Karla Tucker had been involved in the pick-axe murder of two people and sentenced to death. During her time in prison she became a born-again Christian, turning her life over to Jesus Christ and repenting for her crime. This stirred up a hornet's nest as people like Pat Robertson suggested that she should not be executed, as she was a changed person (of course, many other people find Jesus/Allah on Death Row, but Tucker was A: a woman, and B: a christian, so she seemed to get preference in the eyes of Robertson and the like).
My point is this. Depending on your particular interpretation of the Rules Of The Afterlife, Tucker either:

1, Went to Hell for being a drugged-up pick-axe murderer.
2, Went to Heaven because she repented and found salvation through Jesus.

Her victims:
1, went straight to Heaven because they were innocent murder-victims...
2, Or, if they had not already accepted Jesus as their saviour, they went straight to Hell.

This leads to the insane possibility that the murderer went to heaven, and her victims went to Hell. Or even that they all went to either Heaven or Hell.
How many murder victims in Heaven get an unpleasent surprise when their "saved" murderer finally comes up to join them?

Who runs the place?
Easy answer: Satan (big red guy, horns, pointy tail etc.).
Tricky answer: God (old guy with beard and white robe).
"Don't be daft, of course Satan runs the place!", I hear you cry.
Really? How did he get the job, then? After The Fall, did Satan set up shop in the underworld and send an advertisement to God, touting for business -

Now Open - Underworld Torture Facility.Let us handle the tedious work of torturing the Damned for you.Full Repentance Or Your Money Back!10% discount on first million souls if you call today

So what happens when you die? Do you really go up to the Pearly Gates where Peter is waiting with his Big Book Of Your Life? Too many black marks and he sends you down to Hell...
Or is there some sort of spiritual Tug-O-War, as angels and demons fight it out over your soul?
It seems to me that God and Lucifer have some sort of deal going on here. If we succumb to temptation during our lifetime, we go to Hell where we get tortured until we repent, when we are magically transported back up to Heaven. How does that work? Does Lucifer suddenly realise that after 55,000 years of torture you've suddenly become a good person, and he is contractually obliged to send you "upstairs"? Or does God look down into Hell, notice the change and whisk you away to get your wings? "Oh Darn!", says Lucifer, "There goes another one. Why does that keep happening?"
Many people believe that once you are in Hell, you are there for good (or bad). That's it. No parole. Just eternal, searing, excruciating, agonising torture for trillions of years, without so much as a toilet break. Murderers, rapists and drug-dealers, as well as perfectly normal people who simply failed to believe, will have their skin burnt off for all eternity. All sins merit the same punishment, it would appear. If this is so then it seems to me that any God who would send people to such a place can only be described as a mindless monster. Alternatively, if God unconditionally loves everyone and has the ability to pull them out of Hell, but does not, then he is still an insane tyrant.
Ah, but (so I am told) God does not send anyone to Hell. They choose to go there by refusing to accept God. Does this make any sense to you? Just imagine : you die, and go up to the Pearly Gates.
Well, gosh, it looks like I was wrong all this time!
Okay, so there is a God. I pretty much have to believe now, don't I?
Can I come in? What, I can't?
I have to take the down-elevator?
doesn't seem right...

This idea about people choosing Hell just seems like some sort of sick joke, I'm afraid. How can it be said that a person who lives a blameless life, but (for whatever reason) does not accept J.Christ as their personal saviour, is making an active, conscious decision to suffer horrible pain for an infinite amount of time?

Why would Satan want us to repent?
Would Satan really want to torture you for doing his evil work? Surely he would give you a pat on the back and a pint of cold beer, not tie you to a rock and attack you with a cheesegrater. What's he going to say? "Aha! Right, you gave in to temptation and lived a life of Sin, just like I wanted you to. As punishment for disobeying God, and doing my work instead, I'm... erm... going to torture you... er... Hang on a minute.... Have I got that right?"
We are always told "If you are Good, you will be rewarded in Heaven, if you are Bad you will be punished in Hell.". Well, unless Hell is full of Angels doing the torturing, it seems like the saying should be "If you are Good, you will be rewarded in Heaven, if you are Bad you will be rewarded in Hell.". You can understand why priests never tell you this when they are ranting on about Hellfire And Damnation.
Could it be that Lucifer is working under the direct orders of God - "Now then, Luci old pal. I want you to get some big red horns and go tempt some mortals. If you succeed, you can inflict pain on them until they repent, when they can come here with me. Oh, and be careful not to let them know I put you up to it."
It should also be remembered that the Creator is supposedly omniscient. When he created the Angel Lucifer, he knew exactly what was going to happen (how could he not, if he is omniscient?). God created Evil, and created Satan as an instrument of Evil, and us mere mortals are the ones who are on the receiving end and get all the eternal torment. Might it not have been easier to simply not create Evil in the first place?
Hmmm... maybe the Jehovah's Witnesses version isn't so far-out after all. 8)
You see the sort of trouble you can get into just by applying a little bit of reasoning and thought to religion!

I don't believe in Heaven or Hell, demons or angels.
There is no devil trying to tempt you to eat one more doughnut, drive a little faster, murder your neighbour, burn down a church or cheat on your partner. If you do something bad, it is your own fault and no-one else's.
Should we teach our children that they are under constant attack from evil, invisible demons, trying to get them to be naughty, and that if they do then they will horribly tortured forever? Or should we try to teach them respect for others and a sense of responsibility and accountability?

Accept responsibilty for your own actions.
Don't seek forgiveness from your deity - seek it from those you hurt.
The Devil didn't make you do it. You did.

Three Varieties of Creationist.

Hopefully as readers of my blog you may have often noticed, several of my post tend to mention or criticise creationists and creationism. Nevertheless, I should perhaps make it a little more precise to exactly what “I” mean by the term "creationist", because there is an assortment of types and, predictably, they don't all have the same opinion with one another.
This obviously can make it very tricky when attempting to deal with someone who begins denying evolution, or a discussion about Noah and the Flood or the old (or new depending how you look at it) age of the universe. Seldom will they actually say "I'm a young-earth creationist", and may even take some offence if you attach such a label to them. Nonetheless, once you have a vague idea of the key things that they accept as true, many other of their beliefs will then slot into place. This can give you an excellent idea of where they are coming from as people, but you must still be very vigilant about making too many assumptions about them. There are many different varieties of creationists and creationism, and individual advocates to each branch will have their own set of “facts” about the matter.

Young Earth Creationist (YEC)
These appear to be the most widespread sort, or at least the most vocal, at least in the talk boards and debate forums I know. The YEC is often, but not always, an American fundamentalist Christian (or is influenced by such people. I point out this is my experience and not a general snapshot of all creationist debate board users) and tends to believe in some or all of the following:
The Book Of Genesis (and often the entire Bible) should be read as literally as possible.
Strong objection to evolution (both the fact and the theory), usually accompanied by a substantial misunderstanding (or plain ignorance) of the subject.
God created the universe in seven days, less than 10,000 years ago (hence the name "Young Earth"). Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, and were cast out (the Fall).
The world was indeed flooded (the Noachian Deluge), and all present land-life is directly descended from Noah's family and the various "kinds" of creatures on the Ark. Some YECs use microevolution to explain how the millions of species we observe today formed from the initial "kinds" (even though that requires evolution to work at a fantastically accelerated rate), but do not accept that macroevolution occurs at all (even though it is essentially the same thing, over a longer period of time).
Noah's Ark is still to be seen on top of Mt.Ararat. (Several expeditions have attempted to find it, but the political situation in Turkey at the moment makes it difficult to get permission, otherwise it would certainly be an annual event.)
The light from distant stars (more than 10,000 light years away) was created in situ by God, to give the misleading appearance of great age (similar arguments are applied to many similar problems, such as the dating of rocks and fossils).
Fossils are evidence of the Flood, as they were all formed from the bodies of animals that drowned during the Flood.
Humans were special Creations of God, and we are most certainly not related to monkeys of any sort (being conjured up from mud seems much more acceptable, strangely).
The scientific method is an extremely poor way to discover the truth about the universe, and God's obvious presence should be the basis of all inquiry. Any evidence that appears to disagree with the Biblical account should be called into question, if not dismissed altogether. The Bible may be considered to be a useful (or even definitive) science textbook.
The answers to most of lifes problems can be found by reading Genesis correctly. Only by first learning about God may we learn about the universe He created.
Evolution (which does not happen) is thought to be an entirely random process.
Evolution is "only a theory", and therefore should not be considered factual. "Theory" to a creationism means the same as a "wild guess" in this context. Creationism should be taught in science classes alongside, or preferably instead of, the theory of evolution.
The theory of evolution is the cause of many of society's problems (such as racism, eugenics, drugs, immorality and so on).
A minority of YECs seem to think that there is a global conspiracy among scientists, atheists, NASA and the government to conceal the Truth (i.e. that the Earth is young, the Bible is true and evolution is a myth).
Evolutionism is a religion (and should not be forced upon schoolchildren); creationism is a science (and should be taught to schoolchildren as such).

Old Earth Creationist (OEC)
OECs are a great deal more liberal than YECs in their philosophy, and also more diverse. They tend to acknowledge many more of the findings of science, especially to do with the age of the universe (at present estimated at 14.55 billion years), even though there is likely to be some overlap with YEC beliefs. The bulk of theists would most likely loosely fit the explanation of an OEC, although they probably wouldn't identify themselves as such. Their beliefs tend to include:
The Earth and universe are indeed ancient. However, God still created it all, but over a period of many years (the seven "days" become seven long periods). Alternatively, God caused the Big Bang in such a way as to ensure that the Earth formed as we see it today.
The scientific method is a good way to discover the truth about the universe, but God's presence should not be lightly dismissed. Any evidence that appears to disagree with the Biblical account should be examined carefully, but tentatively accepted if it stands up to scrutiny. The Bible may be an excellent guide to life, but it is not a science book. By learning about the universe we may learn something of God.
The description of Creation in Genesis may be seen to match the scientific explanation of the origins of the universe and life on Earth. e.g. "Let there be light" corresponds to the Big Bang, and the sequence of events when God created life roughly correspond to the sequence described by the theory of evolution.
Some OECs accept that humans evolved, but believe God was in control all (or at least some of) the time (this is also known as "theistic" or "guided" evolution). God uses evolution as a tool to direct the development of life.
Alternatively, all other life evolved as normal, but God created humans himself, or created us by adding a soul to our soul-less ancestors when they had reached to appropriate stage of development (this appears to be the official position of the Roman Catholic Church, for instance).
Some OECs still do not accept evolution, but feel that God creates new species Himself, either when current ones naturally die out or just when the time is right. In His mysterious manner, God inexplicably creates things in such a way as to give the impression (to the uninformed) that they evolved. But they didn't.

Intelligent Designer (ID)
IDs are little more than modern version of YECs.
Some YECs, realising that they were getting nowhere in their challenge to replace evolution with creationism in school science classes, are now instead trying to introduce the theory of "Intelligent Design". This is on the whole creationism stripped of all religious references – no Genesis, no Jesus, no Noah, no Bible, no God. The idea is pretty much the same, however. The universe is so astoundingly intricate that it just had to have been designed by a powerful intelligence. It amounts to the Argument from Design wearing the Emperor's New Clothes, nothing has changed but the way it is described, and seems to be a very persuasive and insidious (as well as scheming and cynical) way of getting creationism accepted by school boards and parents.
The argument from "irreducible complexity" is one of the main weapons used. The idea here is that if something cannot possibly function with any of its parts missing, then it is irreducibly complex, and cannot possibly have come to be without some sort of outside intelligence causing its design. Complex biochemical processes in the human body are favourite examples. They believe that if something is so complex that it cannot possibly have formed through natural processes (such as evolution) then the only option available is an intelligent designer - e.g. a supernatural being - e.g. a deity - e.g. the Christian God of the Bible. In the dichotomy they wish to establish, if there is no possible natural cause, then the cause must be supernatural.
It is obviously a very short step from saying that there is an Intelligent Designer to saying "And just who could that Designer be? Why, pick up your Bibles and find out!".
In a Christian-dominated country such as the USA, having Intelligent Design introduced into schools as a respectable science is effectively the same as replacing science with fundamentalist Biblical Creationism. If children are being taught about God as The Creator at home and in church, and their science teachers start talking about an Intelligent Powerful Force That Created The Universe, it's quite obvious that the children will see them as being one and the same. Call me an old cynic, but that is clearly the agenda here.
The IDs try to distance themselves from "traditional" creationists, as they wish to be seen as serious scientists trying to enlighten us and not Christian Fundamentalists trying to preach to us. Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence of miracles, they want to present a convincing, scientific case for Intelligent Design (creation) – or at least cast enough doubt on mainstream science that people will see their theories as a reasonable alternative.
To a certain extent, this is just a new version of the God Of The Gaps idea – things that science currently has trouble explaining are viewed as being inexplicable except through a superhuman Intelligent Designer (God). Of course, if everyone were to subscribe to this, then all science would come to a screeching halt ("You can't work out that problem? Then don't think about it any further – God did it.").
( Presumably, the examples of duff design to be found throughout nature are due to the Intelligent Designer trying to throw us off the scent… )
OECs and YECs tend to strongly disagree with each other, and you can probably find many websites from each side that attack the opposing point of view (oh, the bitter irony).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Evil God, versus Free Will

According to the bible God killed lots of people, obviously there was the flood and then the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but other than those there were still tons of deaths at Gods hand, or his followers acting on his orders or will.

Here is a very hand cut out and keep list of Gods “lucky” victims.
The two numbers represent the number of people killed followed by a running total.
God drowns everyone on earth (except Noah and his family)
Genesis 7:23, BT
God rains fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, killing everyone.
Gen.19:24, BT
Lot's wife for looking back
Gen.19:26, BT
Er who was "wicked in the sight of the Lord"
Gen.38:7, 1 Chr.2:3, BT
Onan for spilling his seed
Gen.38:10, BT
7th Egyptian Plague: Hail
Exodus 9:25, BT
God kills every Egyptian firstborn child.
Ex.12:29-30, BT
God drowns Egyptian army
Ex.14:28, BT
God and Moses help Joshua kill the Amalekites
Ex.17:13, BT
For dancing naked around Aaron's golden calf
Ex.32:27-28, 35, BT
Aaron's sons for offering strange fire before the Lord
Lev.10:1-3, Num.3:4, 26:61, BT
A blasphemer
Lev.24:10-23, BT
God burned to death an unknown number for complaining
Numbers 11:1, BT
God sent "a very great plague" for complaining about the food.
Num.11:33, BT
God killed those who murmured with a plague.
Num.14:35-36, BT
A man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath
Num.15:32-36, BT
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (and their families)
Num.16:27, BT
Burned to death for offering incense
Num.16:35, 26:10, BT
For complaining
Num.16:49, BT
Massacre of the Aradites
Num.21:1-3, BT
For complaining about the lack of food and water, God sent fiery serpents to bite the people, and many of them died.
Num.21:6, BT
God delivers the Bashanites into Moses' hands and Moses kills everyone "until there was none left alive."
Num.21:34-35, BT
For "committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab"
Num.25:9, BT
Midianite massacre (32,000 virgins were kept alive)
Num.31:1-35, BT
The slaughter of the Anakim, the childen of Esau, and the Horim
Deuteronomy 2:21-22
God hardened the king of Heshbon's heart so that the Israelites could massacre his people. (included several cities)
Dt.2:33-34, BT
God delievered the king of Bashan so that the Israelites could massacre his people.
Massacre of Jericho
Joshua 6:21, BT
God tells Joshua to stone to death Achan (and his family) for taking the accursed thing.
Joshua 7:10-12, 24-26, BT
God tells Joshua to attack Ai and do what he did to Jericho (kill everyone).
Joshua 8:1-25, BT
God slaughters the Amorites and even chases them "along the way" as they try to escape.
Joshua 10:10-11, BT
Joshua kills 5 kings and hangs their dead bodies on trees
Joshua 10:24-26, BT
Massacre of 7 cities
Joshua 10:28-42, BT
God delivers the Hazorites.
Joshua 11:8-12, BT
Massacre of the Anakim
Joshua 11:20-21, BT
God delivered Canaanites and Perizzites
Judges 1:4, BT
Ehud delivers a message from God: a knife into the king's belly
Jg.3:15-22, BT
God delivered Moabites
Jg.3:28-29, BT
Massacre of the Canaanites
Jg.4:15, BT
God forces Midianite soldiers to kill each other.
Jg.7:2-22, 8:10, BT
God delivered the Ammonites to Jephthah to slaughter.
Jg.11:32-33, BT
The Spirit of the Lord comes on Samson
Jg.14:19, BT
The Spirit of the Lord comes mightily on Samson
Jg.15:14-15, BT
Samson's God-assisted act of terrorism
Jg.16:27-30, BT
"The Lord smote Benjamin"
Jg.20:35-37, BT
More Benjamites
For looking into the ark of the Lord
1 Sam.6:19, BT
God delivered Philistines
1 Sam.14:12, BT
God forces the Philistine soldiers to kill each other.
1 Sam.14:20, BT
God orders Saul to kill every Amalekite man, women, and child.
1 Sam.15:2-3, BT
Samuel (at God's command) hacks Agag to death
1 Sam.15:32-33, BT
God delivers the Philistines.
1 Sam.23:2-5
"The Lord smote Nabal."
1 Sam.25:38
God delivers the Philistines to David (again).
2 Sam.5:19, 25
Uzzah for trying to keep the ark from falling
2 Sam.6:6-7, 1 Chr.13:9-10
David and Bathsheba's baby boy
2 Samuel 12:14-18
God sent a three-year famine because of something Saul did.
2 Sam.21:1
Seven sons of Saul hung up before the Lord
2 Sam.21:6-9
From plague as punishment for David's census (men only; probably 200,000 if including women and children)
2 Sam.24:13, 1 Chr.21:7
A prophet for believing another prophet's lie
1 Kg.13:1-24
Baasha killed everyone in the house of Jeroboam "according to the saying of the Lord."
1 Kings 15:29
Zimri killed everyone in the house of Baasha "according to the word of the Lord."
1 Kg.16:11-12
Religious leaders killed in a prayer contest
1 Kg.18:22-40
God delivers the Syrians into the Israelites' hands
1 Kg.20:28-29
God makes a wall fall on Syrian soldiers
1 Kg.20:30
God sent a lion to eat a man for not killing a prophet
1 Kg.20:35-36
Ahaziah is killed for talking to the wrong god.
2 Kings 1:2-4, 17, 2 Chr.22:7-9
Burned to death by God
2 Kg.1:9-12
God sends two bears to kill children for making fun of Elisha's bald head
2 Kg.2:23-24
Trampled to death for disbelieving Elijah
2 Kg.7:17-20
God calls for a seven year famine.
2 Kg.8:1
2 Kg.9:33-37
Jehu killed "all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria ... according to the saying of the Lord"
2 Kg.10:16-17
God sent lions to kill "some" foreigners
2 Kg.17:25-26
Sleeping Assyrian soldiers
2 Kg.19:35, 2 Chr.32:21, Is.37:36
1 Chronicles 10:14
God delivers Israel into the hands of Judah
2 Chronicles 13:15-17
2 Chr.13:20
"The Lord smote the Ethiopians."
2 Chr.14:9-14
God kills Jehoram by making his bowels fall out
2 Chr.21:14-19
God kills Jehoram by making his bowels fall out
2 Chr.28:6
God delivered the Israelites into the hand of the Chaldeans.
2 Chr.36:16-17
Ezekiel's wife
Ezekiel 24:15-18
Ananias and Sapphira
Acts 5:1-10
Acts 12:23, BT

So that is an estimated 33,041,220 people killed at God whim and fancy.
Some of the deaths were for just plain crazy and petty.

God Smote Onan for have a wank, which means I should have died around about 1982!
3000 people killed for having a dance, so again everyone that ever went to a disco would now be pushing up daisies.
Some random guy for picking up a few stick on the Sabbath, yeah, smite the anti-litter campaigners.
42 children ripped to death by two bears for the heinous crime and sin of making fun of an old mans bald head. Wouldn’t it have been easier to re-grow the mans hair?
God sent some Lions to kill a few foreigners for not knowing of God, so I guess that taught them.
And so on and so on through out the bible, God dispenses his “love and benevolence” with gusto.

So what about Satan, surely he has a body count that would make God look like an amateur? After all he is the embodiment of all that is evil and wicked in the world. Ok, so here it is, Satan’s body count according to the bible.
That’s it, just 10. And he did those with Gods blessing so he is only partly to blame.

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job ... And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters....And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD ... put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD....And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house...And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. -- Job 1:1-19

So what is all the fuss about Satan then, if you discount the sons and daughters of Job, who died because God wanted to test Job, Satan has not actually killed a single person.

So why is he considered so evil when compared to Gods 33,041,220 kills?
Well it seems the answer is because can only act out of love and thus all the death were not done malevolently but for the greater good of mankind and the lords kingdom.
So that’s alright then.

Apparently Satan just tempting people is far worse than God killing over 33 million people, as I was recently told in a debate regarding who was the most evil out of God and Satan. There were a lot of people defending Gods action because, well he was God and that was about it really, no further conversation was needed.
Or so they thought.

I happily pointed out that God created Satan, and as such Satan is only doing Gods bidding, tempting people against Gods ways just so then God could then punish them because the bible shows he likes that sort of stuff.
I pointed out the paradox in the riddle of Epicurus

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

Thus posing the problems that if Satan is an independent entity, then why doesn’t God get rid of him.
If he can’t get rid of him, then surely Satan must be stronger than God.
If he can get rid of him, but chooses not to, then surely God must approve of Satan and his ways.

Of course, as it always does, this fell on deaf ears. Satan, like man, has free will, and as such God can only intervene after the event I was told.
But free will and an omnipotent and omniscient God are incompatible, one cancelling out the other I informed anyone who wished to listen.
That is when the fun really starts in debates with Christians.
Now don’t get me wrong, the people I was debating with are good honest people and I can truly say I would consider them friends and a pleasure to know (although I am not sure they would say the same about me), but it was obvious that they really wasn’t prepared for such a revelation and the answers they began to give got more and more bizarre.
Of course the obligatory reverence to Hitler not being evil if he did not have free will came my way, there fore by that logic (?) free will must exist.
Then I was told that free will exists as I can control my children if I wanted to, but because I don’t and choose to teach them and let them make their own decisions, this is proof of God doing the same to his “children”.
Apparently mass genocide to stop evil is ok, and we “all” praised the man that dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I was also informed dropping bombs on innocent women and children make you a hero!
Then allegedly I was informed that it was Satan who carried out the inquisitions, not the Catholic Church, Satan was also responsible for the great flood, he is responsible for wars (even I assume all the ones fought in Gods name, such as the crusades).
It was mentioned that if life was predetermined, as in a omnipotent and omniscient God, the that would make God responsible for sin so there fore it was an impossible concept. But at the same time, this only made God more powerful some how.
I also learnt that God can “lessen his supremacy” or limit his own powers to include free will for man.
I was told God being omni-everything did not in anyway alter free will, although the next sentence suggested that God chose not to know what man was doing next, or put another way, he switched off his omniscient powers. It seemed to not register with my fellow debater that even if God had “Omniscience” for only a short while, then he would still be all knowing as the omniscience is “infinite”. In a glimpse God would see everything for all time.
That God only killed the 10-30 millions inhabitants of the world in the great flood to “teach mankind a lesson”. So, to them, it was completely justifiable that 10-30 million people needed to die just to give Noah and his family a warning, even though God had already chosen him because he was a good man. Overkill springs to mind.
All the deaths and killing by God or in Gods name were done for the future benefit of the human race, or so I was told, I was then also told that God could not see in to the future because man had free will.
God can only work in the realms of possibility, and seeing as the future did not exist, it was an impossibility, and thus not under Gods control. Obviously, I suppose, creating universes from nothing and humans from dust fall in the category of “possible”.
By the way, the same person who told me that God could only deal with possibles, also told me that God “spoke things into existence”, which apparently is not impossible!
I was treated to the claim that God was “inherently omniscient” or “partially infinite”, which again is another contradiction in terms as it translates to partially knowing infinitely everything only part of the time.
Once the “inherent omniscience” failed, I was treated to the equally meaningless “Compatablism” which is nothing more than a made up meaningless word for a made up meaningless theory based on nothing more than opinion, speculation, fantastic leaps of logic and 99.9% assumption.
The same person then went on to tell me that life in not unlike a giant “choose your own adventure” book where God knows all the outcomes and the paths you will choose. God knows what path we will before we choose them.
I need to point out at this juncture that the person who told me this is the same one that told me in an earlier post that God couldn’t see into the future or predict our choices. There is consistency for you.
Next on the list was the alternative universe theory. Apparently every time we face a choice, or number of choices, God creates a set of parallel universes for us so we can actually take every choice at once, thus allowing free will, and this happens for every choice we makes, so every day God has to create billions of parallel universes just for me to cope with all the choices I, and my parallel counterparts, would make on a daily basis.

So in conclusion it seems that it is much easier to believe the most outlandish and bizarre explanation you can think of (no evidence or facts needed) on the spur of the moment, then change you stance completely several time during a debate, contradict yourself more than once, use nonsense words and phrases as supportive evidence and generally say anything at all rather than admit God is any way even the slightest bit evil or that via his omni-powers he is responsible for everything no matter how good or bad.

So now you know, God is only partially infinite, has semi-all knowing powers, can not do the impossible, can not see into the future, spend his time creating billions upon billion of parallel universes every millisecond of the day, knows every choice we will make before we make it, limits his own powers to give us free will, Satan carried out the inquisition, caused the flood, which God did to teach the eight remaining humans a lesson, mass genocide is ok for the right reasons, Nagasaki and Hiroshima were praiseworthy events performed by heroes, the less control God has over us, the more powerful that makes him, God can do the impossible and so on.

There, I hope that has cleared up any ambiguity you may have had regarding God and his power and motives.

Imaginary Friends?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lets be fundamentalists

Ever found yourself speaking to ungodly atheist?
Trapped in conversation with the mistaken followers of other religions?
Ever debated with those hell bound “evolutionist” who just cannot see the plain simple truth of “young earth” theory?
Is witnessing to the unhearing internet sinners of the world getting you down?

Well what you need is a crash course in “Simple Fundamentalism”, the darkness of uncertainty will never again flash across your brain whilst listening to the slander and deceptions of those ignorant sinners and infidels who disagree with your patently obvious and self-evident truths.

The first and foremost thing to learn and never forget is thus: the Bible is the unconditional, absolute and literal word of God. Regardless what the uneducated and unwashed heathens may try to tell you the Bible contains none of the following:

Errors of any kind.

When you comprehend this, dealing with those liar and lunatics who maintain they have located a contradiction is effortlessness itself: Simply put, and this is the only answer you will need, there are no contradictions, so they cannot have found one! You see?
Easy, isn't it?
If your adversary continues in his blunder following having this explained to him feel free to expand on your reply using a suitable rejoinder from the subsequent list:

1, That translation is erroneous - in the original scriptures a completely different if not dissimilar word is used, so it is not a real contradiction.
2, He is obviously taking the whole verses or verses out of its original context, so there is, once again, no contradiction.
3, The Devil himself has blinded him to the real truth. There is really no contradiction, and he should get down on his knees and pray to be shown the truthful meaning.
4, This is only appears to be a contradiction. This should not be mistaken with a definite contradiction.
5, If the scriptures are construed accurately, it is evident that there never was a contradiction in the first place.
6, There are no contradictions in the entire Bible, so it is impossible for this to be a contradiction.
7, The contradiction is really only caused by his outdated assessment. The word [insert any word they just used here] had a totally dissimilar denotation back then.

Having just established that the imaginary contradictions do not, and never did, exist, you have now conclusively proved that there are, and never were, any contradictions in the Holy book, therefore strengthening your claim that it is beyond doubt the pure and unblemished sacred Word of God.

But what about all that science stuff people shout about?
There is really only the one measuring stick necessary when determining the conviction of any claim - how it compares with biblical Scripture.
In fact much more precisely, how it balances with your individual interpretation of The Bible. So, if some worldly humanist scientists have the courage to dream up a hypothesis (or "wild guess" or “shot in the dark”, as it is more precisely identified) that appears to be indisagreement with the wisdom of the Bible, obviously these egg-head foolish professors have made yet another stupid blunder, probably under some demonic or drug induced power.

On the other hand, when science agrees with the Bible we should give a round of applause to the courageous, Christian investigators for supporting the sacred Scriptures and presenting the magnificence of Creation. But more often than not they are just plain wrong.
Never forget, the atheists are speedy to use the results of science as "evidence" to back up their arguments, but this is because avarice and science are their god and religion. They want the men in white coats to save them from the God they know will judge them.
There are numerous things which science cannot give explanation. Nevertheless, you CAN explain these things instantaneously and plainly just by these three magic words that explain everything and needs no further response or discussion.
"God did it"
Most likely the ungodly heathen will say "Well, we unsure how or why the Big Bang happened, and possibly never will, but we're constantly working on it".
Straightforward resolution - God did it.
Predicament solved.
Nonetheless, some atheists are obstinate in their malevolent ways and you may have to continuously repeat this scientific explanation to them many times before they accept it. Of course, when scientists eventually do come up with an answers for such problems, be prepared to patiently explain to them that this is what your religion taught all along, if interpreted correctly.

In a impassioned disagreement, you will frequently find yourself losing track of your preceding posts, and the nonbelievers will often charge you of contradicting remarks you made previously. As everything you say is scripture based, it stands to reason that they should consequently be accurate at all times.
On the other hand, keep in mind that, as slaves of Satan, atheists will do their best to interweave falsehoods into your words and endeavour to baffle you. If this appears to be occurring, completely disregard their remarks and pray for strength.

Logic and reason is your enemy.
These are the tools and weapons of the sceptic, and you should not under any circumstance entertain them. Belief and devotion in the Holy Bible is all you need. The nonbeliever will try to tell you that God should be some how bound by the rules of logic, but God created logic and so as thus cannot be constrained by it! The more illogical and unreasoning you are, the more difficult it becomes for atheists to disprove your statements.
They will shout "But that does not make any sense at all! It is logically unfeasible!" - be that as it may, your belief and faith will tell you that you are right. By means of God, all things are possible - counting impossible things. What else could you possibly need than that?

"Extraordinary claims necessitate extraordinary evidence" you will most likely to be told.
But just who is producing the strange and extraordinary claims?
You, who merely notices and can see the Creator's hand in everything, or the heathen sinner who opposing all logic and reason (the two very things they claim to love most) denies the very same.
Evidently, it is the duty of the ungodly to prop up their preposterous claims that there is no such thing as God.
Request of them if they can demonstrate God does not exist.
Question them as to how they can be so haughty to make this assertion, when they clearly do not have the ability to have searched the whole universe for God.
They will retort and ask you to refute the existence of such things as Zeus, Vishnu and unicorns, but you have to give no notice to such immature twaddle - there can be no similarity between the make believe gods of other religions and the certainty of Christianity, Their incapability to refute God is confirmation enough that He is real. If they cannot topple your theory, they are undoubtedly being irrational by refusing to recognise it.

Often after a few days debating with a group of unbelievers, you should disappear for a week or so. This should give them time to come to terms with the truths you have revealed.
Also, it will provide time for new people to join the discussion. This allows you to return to the forum once more and repeat your statements, unchanged, for the benefit of newcomers.
Personally I advocate storing your longer opinions in a text file, so it can be effortlessly cut-and-pasted into the discussion. If the moderators object, illustrate that, having previously corrected their misconceptions; you are now merely attempting to reach the more recent newer members and also the ones who still irrationally decline the truth. If they are educated people, they will hold in high esteem your opinions and step aside.
Duplicate and tirelessly repeat this practice until you are expelled from the talk box/forum/message boards or placed on everybody's ignore/foe/invisible list..

To take the wind out of your opponent's sails, respond to the tiniest question with reams and reams of text.
If at all possible, you ought spend a couple of hours penning this yourself, but seeing as you are a busy person and you don't have the time, well the perfect solution is to copy-and-paste masses of relevant (or, if achievable, irrelevant) information from other Christian websites or sources.
Try to use at least 10 or 15 kilobytes illuminating why they need to pray much more, why they have to dread to prospect of Hell, how Christ the saviour died selflessly for their sins, why important and famous Christian thinker, philosophers and scientists disagree with them totally, how long-dead Christians have previously demonstrated them wrong, and so on.
Ask as many incomprehensible questions as achievable. If they are really honest (which, being atheists, is not possible) they will respond to all of your points.
If they do not succeed and fail to answer ALL of your points and questions, triumph is yours.
Make a reminder of this embarrassing rout and bear in mind to bring it up frequently when dealing with this particular personage. (This is also a useful practice to use throughout any sort of debate with evolutionists.)
A alternative on this premise is to post copious verses from the Bible to sustain your point. Why trouble yourself with a hundred words of description, when just one verse will do the same job.
Basically post any verses that counter the nonbeliever, and then possibly several more pertaining to hellfire. As you know that the verses are known to be true, scant more need be said on the subject.
If the doubter unsurprisingly returns with a contradicting argument, post the unchanged verses again but propose that he truly reads them this time.

Spelling, Punctuation and grammar are not significant, as long as the Spirit guides you. If you are criticised for being incapable to structure a sentence in English, or using words like "athiset", "Noahs arc", "evolotin" and "revilatian" - worry not. It is not the finer points of punctuation and spelling which is imperative, but accomplishment of spreading the message of God across.
Think about this exceptional case in point. To the inexperienced eye, the author may emerge to be an illiterate, ignorant fool, but just sense the worship in his words:"i was wonder if you yourself knew that darwin disowned his theroy in his last days knowing that fossils show species suddenly appering not sight mutations made over long periods of time. the fact is eveolution is total improvible."Only the coldest of hearts could not be moved by such testimony. This is the sort of stage of disjointed drooling you have to be aiming for.
You should mingle a feeble understanding of the English language with your own idiosyncratic writing technique.
The following are quite fashionable at the moment:

1, writing the whole thing in lower case devoid of any punctuation at all this can be fairly tricky to interpret but is very easy to type which is a bonus dont you think


3, short, disjointed.....sentences detached by long......strings of dots.....this makes you look quite.....thoughtful as if you are......pausing every now and......then.

4, Overuse of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! can highlight the point you are trying to make!!!!!!!!!!!! Question marks also work well, don't they???????????????????????????

5, Show ur mastery of the Internet by using words like "u" instead of "you", "2" instead of "to" and "too", "ur" instead of "your" and "you're", and u 2 can spread the gospel 2 other kewl d00dz.

If English is not your first language, all the better. The way you present your argument says a lot about you, so pick wisely.

Whether you are discussing about evolution, the beginning of the cosmos, fundamental human structure, or the structure of the solar system, there is no need to worry yourself with finding or gaining knowledge about anything at all about the issue.
By definition, those who oppose you are incorrect, deluded and maybe perverts, so it is a bad idea to contaminate your mind with their religious philosophy. All the proof in the world is no competition for a single grain of the True Faith.
If they say "But evolution doesn't work like that! You are entirely oblivious!", repeat to them that evolution doesn't really work at all.
Has a cow ever given birth to a dog?
Do we observe hydrogen turning into people next to us?
If we "evolved" from chimps, why are there still chimps?
Why do we not see amoebae sprouting legs and talking?

These cruel insights will cut through their doctrine like a scorching knife through butter.
If discussing evolution, endeavour to request an entire listing of transitional fossils from ape to human. They may supply you with a dozen or so examples, but it is scarcely complete, is it? How can you be expected to recognise such slapdash evidence?
Go on to notify them that those are not transitional fossils anyway, as there are no transitionals. Clearly God created all species independently; if not they would have no difficulty finding the evidence. The gaps in the fossil record are as a result concrete evidence for creationism.
If they attempt to direct you to documents or interweb sites supposedly showing that the universe is billions of years old, direct them in turn to Genesis.
Give details how carbon dating techniques have been exposed to be desperately defective. For example, when the Turin Shroud was dated, the so-called professionals dated it approximately of the 14th Century, instead of 33AD. This evidently calls into question all the other radiometric dating guesses they will throw around.

Words can frequently denote a number of different things. For instance, the word "set" has dozens of meanings : a set of things; a badger lives in a set; a jelly will set; you can set something down on a table; you can set up a meeting; and so on.
Words signify what you require them to indicate at any particular occasion. This is a general basis why you will find atheists misinterpreting things - they believe you imply one thing, when in fact you were discussing about something else. It's scarcely your error if they are not capable of keeping up, is it? For example, Genesis speaks of a mist rising from the ground to water the Earth. This can mean : mist, rain, dew, fog, clouds, water vapour, condensation, snow, hail, sleet or any other imaginable appearance of precipitation.
Let the Spirit direct you in this topic, and if the atheist claims you are erroneous or contradicting yourself, let the Spirit show you once more to the true meaning of the word. This may happen many times, as you can easily misunderstand the Spirit's guidance

Lying for Jesus
Being economical with the facts, manufacturing data on the spot and ignoring incompatible evidence are all useful weaponry in your armoury. The vital thing is to persuade the adversary of the reliability and honesty of your claims. How you go about this is inconsequential. Feel free to refer to other fundamentalist works, whether or not they have been allegedly "discredited", "refuted" or "demonstrated to be false" - the ICR website and publications, Jack Chick tracts, Dr.Dino's website and videos, Answers In Genesis, things you remember hearing from other fundies or as a child in Sunday School, and so on.
When comparing the works of God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians against deviant secular humanist scientists, who are you going to believe?
Remember, you are here to save their immortal soul from the burning fires of Hell, not educate them in stuff they don't really need to know anyway. If you have a dubious argument based on fictional data, but it works, then there is no problem. The vital matter is bringing souls to Jesus and how you go about that is immaterial. The ends justify the means, and in this case the "ends" are souls being saved. Such a noble and worthy goal itself justifies any means you see fit to use. Physical force is generally frowned upon, although there are clear historical precedents for this. Use your own judgement.
Don't forget, the Lord is watching at all times, and will certainly forgive you as long as you are spreading His good news. So go to it!

In this world, what you know to be true often conflicts with the reality around you. To be a soldier for Christ it will help enormously if you can master the technique of mental compartmentalisation. This means you must be able to keep your scriptural knowledge away from the secular knowledge that allows you to function in wordly matters, e.g. at your place of work. For example, even though science is clearly mistaken about the processes involved in radioactive decay (see the "carbon dating" example above), if you worked at a nuclear power plant it would be necessary to assume the opposite was true - otherwise it would be impossible to build nuclear reactors. Likewise, a good fundy astronomer knows that the correct date of the universe is about 10,000 years at most, but must be able to examine galaxies millions of light-years away and explain them according to the secular model of cosmology. Being able to hold two (or more) sets of mutually exclusive thoughts at once is extremely beneficial to the up-and-coming fundy on the internet.
Remember, something might be "true" while you're at work or sitting an exam, but it's still completely wrong, and you should switch back to the "Christian Compartment" in your brain whenever possible.

Wilful ignorance
Ignorance is bliss, and what is more blissful than reading the Word Of God? You will often find yourself accused of this "crime", but why should you waste time trying to learn how the unbelievers lie to themselves? You don't need to read a book on evolution to know that it is wrong. You don't need to read a book about the so-called Big Bang to know that it is a delusion.
It is the atheists who are wildly ignorant for not reading the Bible! Sure, many of them say they have read it, but this is clearly a lie - if they've read it, how come they don't believe it?
Don't waste your precious time trying to get to grips with their overly-complicated theories, when you have a much simpler theory that you already know is true.

There you have it - Fundamentlist Think For Beginners.
All you need to do now is decide how to sign off your devastating arguments. There is classic arrogant abuse, such as "Ha ha ha what an idiot! God made it all! Get an education."; or patronising the opponent - "I'll pray that God opens your closed mind and eyes"; a selection of obscure Bible verses, maybe; and finally, the ever popular subtle threats of hellfire - "Well, I've told you the Truth, I only hope you like it HOT after you die".
Don't forget what you've learned: return a week later and post exactly the same assertions that you started with.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Evolutionary Misconception.

The single most common misconception that people have about evolution is
"It's only a theory."
Evolution is a fact and a theory. Confusion arises when this distinction is not recognised. This misconception is expressed pretty much everywhere else on the internet that the subject is discussed.
This misconception invariably arises out of plain ignorance. That is not to say that evolution deniers are generally ignorant people, but when it comes to the subject of evolution they usually have wild misunderstandings about pretty much everything to do with it. A bit of a sweeping generalisation, maybe, but fairly valid as anyone who has had to deal with creationists will tell you. (Many people do have a good depth of knowledge about it, but still choose not to accept it, mostly because it conflicts with their religious beliefs.) When it comes to, say, the history of Thailand, I am certainly ignorant - I know practically nothing about it whatsoever. If I then started sounding off about it, and explaining to someone what I thought about some issue to do with Thailand, my ignorance of the subject would be instantly obvious to anyone who had actually read up on the topic. This does not make me a stupid or ignorant person, but it does expose my misconceptions and lack of basic knowledge - the same applies to many of the people who say "Evolution is only a theory."

Life evolves. That is a fact. One of the simplest definitions of evolution is the change in the frequency of genes in a species over time.
For example, imagine if you will a rabbit farm high on a mountain. The farmer buys a thousand rabbits, some have longer fur and some have shorter fur - it's a quite mixed group of rabbits. The length of the fur on the rabbits is determined by their genetic makeup. Some have genes for long fur, some for shorter. Now, this farm (or ranch, if you prefer) is in an area that gets extremely cold for most of the year. The rabbits survival depends upon having enough fur to keep them warm. Those with short fur will freeze to death and die (our fictional farmer doesn't have much business sense).
Because of the situation these unfortunate creatures are in, they are subject to natural selection. There is a selection pressure for longer fur. More baby rabbits are born than can possibly survive in the environment. This is an important part of the process. Their genetic makeup is a determining factor in their survival. Rabbits that die of cold will not pass on their short-fur genes to their offspring (as they won't have any), whereas rabbits with long fur will be more resistant to the cold and therefore much more likely to reproduce, passing on their genes for long fur.
Over many generations, the farm will consist almost entirely of long-fur rabbits. The frequency of genes for short fur has decreased, and the frequency of genes for long fur has increased. Far fewer short-haired rabbits, and eventually none at all, will be born - their genes will have been lost from the gene-pool.
Some rabbits may have developed genetic mutations which further increase the length of their fur. These mutations will clearly give those rabbits an advantage in their environment, and those beneficial mutations will spread through the gene pool of the population. Mutations that are detrimental to the survival rate will clearly be lost quickly, as those unfortunate rabbits will have a reduced chance of surviving long enough to mate. In this way, useful mutations stay on in the population. It's a positive feedback loop - this is the second important thing to remember.
These rabbits have evolved. It's really that simple.
Evolution is a directly observable phenomenon. There is no debate among scientists as to whether or not evolution occurs, any more than there is debate about the Earth orbiting the Sun. Gene pools change - evolution happens. This is obviously a rather contrived example, but it serves to demonstrate some of the basic principles.
Now, objectors will say "Ah, but they're still rabbits, aren't they? That's not the same as amphibians turning into reptiles, and then mammals, is it? That still doesn't explain how a human can evolve from an ape-like ancestor, does it?"
Yes, it does. The change from mixed-fur rabbits to long-fur rabbits (in this example) is often referred to as micro-evolution - a minor change within a species. Larger changes are known as macro-evolution, and take far longer to occur, but the process involved is exactly the same - genes changing over time. It is a cumulative process - the minor changes build up over many generations into major changes. Given time, the descendants of these rabbits could become an entirely novel species of rabbit, and eventually a creature that can no longer be called a rabbit.
To say that you accept micro-evolution but not macro-evolution is akin to saying that it is possible to walk to the end of your street, but it is somehow impossible to walk to the next town. The process involved, putting one foot in front of the other, a single step at a time, is exactly the same although the end results may be completely different.
Evolution is a fact. This is not open to debate.

Darwin's Theory Of Evolution is not evolution. In the same way, the theory that the Earth orbits the Sun is not the Earth orbiting the Sun - it is a description and explanation of it.

The theory of evolution is an explanation of the facts of evolution.

If nobody had ever developed the theory, it would not change that fact that living things evolve over time - evolution happens whether there is a theory or not.
Furthermore, Darwin's theory of evolution may be totally, hopelessly and utterly wrong. Even if it were, and Darwin and every biologist who had contributed to the theory since were incorrect, evolution would still exist and continue. Evolution is totally independent of the theory of evolution. The theory is simply an attempt to explain the observed facts of nature that we call "evolution".
If another theory came along to replace the theory of evolution, it would have to explain the facts at least as well as Darwin's theory has done for the last 150 years. No such replacement has ever been produced.
If there is a debate or controversy within the scientific community about the theory of evolution, creationists see this as evidence that "evolution is in crisis". Nonsense - it is merely that scientists disagree (often bitterly) over details of the theory of evolution. That evolution actually happens is beyond question, but the theory of evolution is - and always should be, like every other scientific theory - probed, tested and scrutinised. Again, even if the theory were to collapse, that would still not magically disprove evolution or cause species to cease evolving.

What it is not
Evolution is not about the origins of life on Earth. Evolution is about the development of living things over time. The study of the origins of life is known as "abiogenesis" and any web search engine will find you many examples of current literature on the subject.

Evolution is not about the Big Bang theory, nor the formation of the Sun and Earth. These are subjects for cosmology, not biology. Some creationist websites like to put up list of supposedly tricky questions for evolutionists - if you read them carefully you often find lots of questions that actually have nothing at all to do with biological evolution.

Random. Evolution is often mistakenly compared to "a hurricane blowing through a junkyard and building a fully functional Boeing 747". This is incorrect, as evolution is a very slow, gradual process directed by the actions of natural selection (as shown above in the rabbit farm). Mutations may indeed be random events, but whether or not they remain in the gene pool is certainly not random, as it depends on how those genes affect the creature's survival in the environment. It works as a positive feedback loop.

Evolution is not about attempting to prove that the Bible, Qu'ran, or any other holy book is false. It is simply the study of living things and how they develop over time. Whether or not that conflicts with a particular interpretation of a particular scripture is not a consideration. There is no conspiracy amongst scientists to disprove the teachings of any of the thousands of religions who happen to make claims about the processes of life.

Evolution is not about monkeys turning into men, or showing that humans are "merely" animals.

Evolution does show that humans developed from an ape-like ancestor, along with other modern apes such as the chimpanzee. We did not develop from apes, but alongside them, in the same way that different branches grow from the same trunk of a tree. The development of humans is one minor aspect of the study of evolution, but most biologists will find more interesting creatures to study.