Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Anti-evolutionists love to trot out the old Piltdown Man hoax as if it were some sort of proof against evolution, but if they understood what actually happened a bit better, they would not be so quick to do this.
Piltdown Man was a hoax. It was, however, never actually accepted by most of the scientific community. The reason for this was that it didn't quite fit the rest of the data that supported evolution. It was an outlier. Scientists were skeptical from the outset.
While the press was eating up this new find, scientists went to work testing the find, examining, trying to verify - in short, they did science. And, they soon discovered that their skepticism was well founded, the Piltdown Man was a fake. This was good news for evolutionary scientists, as the Piltdown Man was hard to reconcile with prevailing theory, so the realization that it was not real meant there was no more challenge. Further, it showed that science works. Scientists were able to police themselves by using further study, by using the process of science itself! This was not a black mark for science, it was a triumph!
In summary, when creationists trumpet Piltdown Man, they are effectively shooting themselves in the foot. It was never part of evolutionary theory, so the realization that it was a hoax presents no problem for evolution. Further, it wasn't creationists who even discovered the hoax, but real scientists doing real science that discovered it and set things right.
Monday, 26 January 2009
I had another post that was going to go up today, but I decided that I had to write this post now. I just watched part of a program on gays and religion and something in me decided I had to write about it. The program was about the fight between religious peoples over gays, where some religious people call gays abominations and others are more tolerant and accepting. Actually, to be more specific, the show was about Xians and gays, as all the people featured were Xians.
Before I say any more, I think it's important to note one thing. I think it's a good thing that some Xians are becoming more tolerant; that they are setting aside the barbarisms of their holy book and learning to accept gays as people instead of seeing them as sinners/abominations/etc. That said, one of the people being interviewed for the show said something that I'll paraphrase below:
We need to teach our fellow Xians that the Bible isn't about hatred and intolerance, but that it's about love and acceptance. We need to extend this love and acceptance to gays.
What the hell book has this woman been reading? The Bible is not about love - it is about evil, hatred, damnation, etc. The OT is most certainly about destruction and intolerance as god routinely kills whole peoples and orders the deaths of whole societies. He lays down draconian rules with death as the only penalty, and being gay certainly goes against some of those rules! It seems that god really does hate fags.
The NT is not much better. Sure, Jesus talks about turning the other cheek and loving your neighbor (which was most likely defined in the narrow sense of other Jews) but there's also plenty of fire and brimstone and the damnation of others to eternal torment - a concept that came about in the NT and far outstrips the cruelty of the OT. I believe it was Dawkins that said something along the lines that at least the OT god left you alone after you died - the NT god will keep on torturing you for eternity. This book is about death, hatred, evil, intolerance, etc.
So, yeah, it's good that some Xians are changing their tune when it comes to gays, but it's a stretch to claim that the Bible is what is leading the charge. C'mon. Instead of using post-hoc reasoning to make the Bible fit with what we see as moral and good, why not look at the book that has brought about so much hatred and see it for what it really is and reject it?
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Some apologists try to set up a situation where they claim that atheists "have faith" in science, and then they wonder why that is any better than their faith in god. Both are unfounded beliefs, they claim. Problem is that they are making a very bad argument.
To say that one "has faith" in science is to misstate things a bit. Sure, we don't know for a fact that objects that are dropped will fall towards the Earth the next time we do it, so one could conceivably claim that one has to have faith that the findings of science will continue to hold true. But, it's not really a faith position, is it, since it is a tentative conclusion based on real data and empirical results. If one could call that faith, it is certainly justifiable due to the nature of science. To call religious faith justifiable or quibble over whether it truly is faith, however, is a long shot at best. Religion can not rely on the type and breadth of evidence that science brings to the table. Religion can not rely on its results the way science can. In short, to try to equate scientific "faith" to religious faith is to seriously understate one while overstating the other. It's just bad, sloppy, and or dishonest apologetics...but we're used to that, right?
Monday, 19 January 2009
Is the Bible the most important book ever written? I'm sure that the vast majority of Xians would answer in the affirmative to that question. So, why is it so easy to misinterpret? One would think that god would want his book to be easy to understand and difficult to get wrong, but that's clearly not the case. Xians often complain that non-Xians interpret the Bible incorrectly, but who can blame us? Xians themselves can't even agree on interpretations of the book? If the followers of this book can't even figure out what it is supposed to mean, who can?
If god is who he is supposed to be (perfect, omni-max, etc.) then the only conclusion we can come to is that god intentionally wanted this book to be confusing. In fact, Jesus even says that he speaks in parables in order to confuse the message. But, why would god do this if he wants us to come to him and be saved? The obvious answer is that he doesn't - leading us to conclude that god wants to send people to hell. It's just another absurdity of the Xian religion that they can assert that he does and ignore these very obvious conclusions based on the real world.
Sunday, 18 January 2009
I speak about bad apologetic arguments from time to time, so here's another one. When a Bible verse is presented that contradicts what an apologist claims, the apologist will sometimes retreat to the following argument: "Jesus was talking to a specific person at a specific time, so it doesn't hold for us today and doesn't impact my argument." This is, however, a bad argument to make. Jesus was always speaking to specific people at a specific time, so by this argument, one invalidates the whole entire NT (as one can also note that the rest of the authors and speakers would fall into the same category). Congrats, you've just thrown our your entire holy book.
In some instances, it also doesn't make sense to make this argument, even if the above criticism did not work. If god is aspect X at all times due to his nature, and the Bible contradicts that due to what Jesus says, does it make sense to say that it's only true there for the person Jesus was speaking to? No, of course not, because it's an admission all the same that god really is not aspect X at all times due to his nature. His nature obviously allows for god to be Not X at times. Hence, any argument based on god's nature being aspect X is now invalidated. Again, congrats apologist on invalidating your own arguments.
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
By now, we're all aware that the Washington State capitol building was host to a plethora of holiday displays, including a nativity scene and an atheist sign. Now that the hoopla has died down, I had some thoughts that I decided to share.
First off, I would like to thank Gov. Gregoire for sticking to her guns and not caving in to demands from Xian fundamentalists that the free speech of atheists be suppressed. This was courageous on her part. That said, she put herself into a tough situation by allowing the government to become entangled in religious speech in the first place. Once the government opens the doors to one religious viewpoint, it must open the doors to all. This creates an impossible burden, however, as it is simply not possible for everyone to get their say. Some one will always be left out, and this creates a de facto endorsement of some religious ideas over others. The only way to not create this situation is to not let it get started in the first place, which would also satisfy actual separation of church and state by not entangling the state with religion in the first place. This protects the rights of all of us.
Apparently, this stance is untenable for some Xians. For seeking to uphold the rights of all, I've been derided as an intolerant bigot. Yes, you read that right. I'm intolerant because I believe that church and state should be separate and that the state should not entangle itself with religion and should not open up fora for this purpose. Of course, what's really happening is that these Xians can not defend their position, so they resort to name-calling. It's a tried and true tactic to shout down your opponent with such labeling in an attempt to shame the person from the field of debate.
But, I think for some Xians this is just part one of a three pronged attack. If they get to speak out and the atheists don't show up, they win. The other two prongs are as follows: if they speak out and the atheists speak out as well, they get to denounce the atheists (no matter what message the atheists use) as a bunch of zealots that are seeking to take away everyone's religion. (See, it's not wrong to want to put up a nativity scene, that's normal - but wanting to criticize it is zealotry.) Heads I win, tails you lose, and if you don't flip the coin you're a bigot. I'm sure Jesus would be proud of such despicable tactics.
Monday, 12 January 2009
In the book of Revelation, it opens with the following line:
1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass...
This is followed up by 1:3 which claims that "The time is at hand."
The writers of the Bible seemed to think that the end was near. In fact, there's no shortage of end times warnings in the Bible. In fact, Jesus even says that the end is coming within one generation...
Yet, we are all still here. This is yet another instance of the Bible proving itself to be false.
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Luke 11:9-10 tells us that if we ask, we shall receive. If we seek, we shall find. I've seen two interpretations of this verse. The first is that when we pray, what we pray for will be provided. The second is that if we seek god, we shall find him. I'll deal with that one first.
If we seek god, we'll find him, right? Well, this is a rather easy assertion to deal with. The existence of atheists that have deconverted from Xianity is empirical evidence that this simply is not so, especially those atheists who were once fundamentalists - and they do exist. These people wanted to find god, they asked, but no god would present itself to them. If this is not enough, it's been reported that even Mother Theresa (a horrible woman no doubt, but none can deny that she truly wanted to see god) was even unable to find god.
As for the first interpretation, that our prayers will be answered, this is also easily dealt with. Simply pray for a million dollars. When it doesn't appear, you will have disproven this passage. But, the apologist might object that god could still answer your prayer, just on his own timeline! OK, then pray to receive one million dollars right now. Objection defeated. I honestly can't figure out why so many people take this book so seriously.
Monday, 5 January 2009
I've previously talked about god lying to us through his retelling of the creation of the universe, but I'd like to expand on that. Any instance of an error in the Bible is evidence that god is lying to you (provided that god exists and wrote the Bible, as some believe).
How can I make such a broad and sweeping statement? It's actually rather easy. god is providing information to us through the Bible. If that information is incorrect, then god is providing false information. Now, god could be mistaken, but then that would violate the tenet that god is infallible and perfect, so any "mistake" in the Bible must have been intentional. Therefore, all mistakes in the Bible are intentional mistatements by god, hence they are lies. Given the large number of Biblical mistakes, this means that god lies quite a bit.
Friday, 2 January 2009
Is it logically possible for god to be perfect and omni-max? If we think about it, the answer has to be, "No." There are certain things that we as humans can do that god can not do. For instance, humans can feel fear, while god can not. In order to be afraid, one has to be in a seemingly dangerous situation where one is powerless to act or feel that one is powerless to act. Yet, this can not be with god. god is omnipotent, so god always has the ability to act. Also, god is omniscient, so god will always be aware of his omnipotence and ability to act and will know that he can never be in any danger. Therefore, god can not be in a situation of danger to himself with an inability to act and set things the way he wants them or ignorant of his ability to do so. god can not feel fear.
There are others as well, like bravery, cowardice, etc. Bravery comes from facing long odds and overcoming them or at least attempting to, but the odds are always in god's favor due to his omnipotence, so god can never feel bravery. Etc. etc. etc.
Now, one may argue that the ability to feel fear would make god less than perfect as fear is a negative emotion/feeling, so there is no issue here. But, one should note that bravery is a positive emotion/feeling, which is inaccessible to god. It should also be noted that apologists like to say that pain is necessary because it has good uses, and the same can be said of fear, so fear is not always a negative feeling to have (nor is bravery always positive). So, we are left with god not being able to do things that humans can do, which is not omnipotence. What we are left with is yet another example of the attributes of god being logically contradictory.