Thursday, 24 February 2011

Finally, we get down to the real proof for God... gets a little weird when they say:
5.We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.
Here’s the real story, we know God exists because he chases us, he keeps wanting us to come to him. And how do we know this? Not through critical scientific study but through that great contribution to science: personal experience. People “know” God exists. They can’t produce any valid verifiable evidence for his existence but they insist that those of us who don’t believe in him, should simply accept their word that he exists. 
And they’ll tell you that they know this because he answers their prayers. I’d like to see the prayers of an amputee answered before I’m likely to even concede that there might be something in this prayer business. 

I knew Jesus had to enter into it somewhere, here we go:
6. Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.
There is absolutely no concrete evidence that Jesus ever existed. Not a single artifact or word written by his contempories about him. The Romans, who were assiduous record-keepers in the same way that the Nazis were, never wrote a word about him. All we have that suggests that he might have been a real person is the fact that from around the middle of the first century, people spoke about him and began to worship him. But everything said and written about him was produced long after he supposedly lived. 
I want to close with some quotes that may be food for thought:
God made a garden. He made a snake. He had the power to stop the snake tempting Eve, but he didn't. He put a temptation in the garden, for children who DID NOT at the time know the difference between good and evil. ONLY by eating of the tree, did the children become apprised of good and evil. Therefore, the children did not have free choice as to choosing to eat; they lacked understanding of good and evil, which was antecedently required in order to make that decision. Furthermore, since the snake compelled them, through their God-given ignorance, it's the snake's fault. But since God laid the trap and MADE the snake, it's his fault. Now, God decided to turn himself into a mortal to come to earth for man. But he did, admittedly, wait 4000 years first. So for 4000 years, evil was allowed to reign on earth, with no chance of salvation. After 4000 years of guffawing at the misery, God finally felt guilty and went to earth. How? Well, he had sex with a virgin. He didn't marry her and become mortal first, no. He broke his own law. But anyway, this virgin gave birth to God in human form, Jesus. This means God had sex with his own mother. Thereafter, he wandered around and got into trouble. He was executed. His followers chalked this up to him offering himself (as Jesus), to himself (as God), as a human sacrifice. Let me repeat that so you can see how stupid it is: he sacrificed himself to himself. Why? Because of a fiasco 4000 years ago that HE orchestrated. He sacrificed himself to himself to punish himself and take on the sins of man, wherewith the face of man was blackened, because God himself did not forgive those sins for 4000 years. So in order to forgive those sins of 4000 years' duration, God sacrificed himself to himself to make himself forgive man for having sins which man acquired as a direct result of God's little entrapment scenario that he set up at the beginning of earth's time. So, in summary: Christianity is the view that God tricked man into evil, punished man for this evil, had sex with his own mother, sacrificed himself to himself to forgive man for sins that God himself had created anyway. If that's not circular and incredibly stupid, I do not know what is. John Ostrowick for more on Jesus' existence, see his  book: The Anointed 

The fruits of Christianity were religious wars, butcheries, crusades, inquisitions, extermination of the natives of America and the introduction of African slaves in their place. Arthur Schopenhauer.
Matthew 7:16-20 (King James Version)
 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Continuing the discussion on whether God exists...

I'll deal with parts 3,4 and 5 in this post...
2. The universe had a start - what caused it? 
And they end this claim with The universe has not always existed. It had a start...what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.
Stephen Hawking says:The ideas which had grown over two thousand years of observation have had to be radically revised.  In less than a hundred years, we have found a new way to think of ourselves.  From sitting at the center of the universe, we now find ourselves orbiting an average-sized sun, which is just one of millions of stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. And our galaxy itself is just one of billions of galaxies, in a universe that is infinite and expanding. But this is far from the end of a long history of inquiry.  Huge questions remain to be answered, before we can hope to have a complete picture of the universe we live in.
Does this mean that when we don’t know the answer, we should simply say “God did it!” When a child, for no apparent reason, develops a fatal illness, is it God’s fault? Does it matter why things happen? Sometimes it does, which is the reason that scientists continue to seek for the reason for the ‘big bang.” Just brushing it aside with “God caused it to happen,” is to close the door on further exploration. Imagine if the first man to see that walking upright would allow him to carry his tools with him, and thereby save him having to make new ones at his next camp had refused to change the way things were done, as the believers in God would have us do? We would still be dragging our knuckles on the ground and God would never have been invented.
3. The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?
Then they continue to appear to be citing scientific evidence to prove that these laws of nature are due to God’s design.

The whole point of accepting evolution as fact as opposed to “God did it” is because nature is not perfect. If animals, and thereby humans, had not evolved from earlier evolutions, would laryngeal nerve in giraffes, and the vas deferens in humans have deliberately been designed to take the long journey that they do?
The recurrent laryngeal nerve is a fourth branch of the vagus nerve, which is a cranial nerve. In mammals, its path is extraordinarily long. As a part of the vagus nerve, it comes from the brain, passes through the neck down to heart, rounds the dorsal aorta and returns up to the larynx, again through the neck.This path is suboptimal even for humans, but for giraffes it becomes even more suboptimal. Due to the lengths of their necks, the recurrent laryngeal nerve may be up to 4m long (13 ft), despite its optimal route being a distance of just several inches.The indirect route of this nerve is the result of evolution of mammals from fish, which had no neck and had a relatively short nerve that innervated one gill slit and passed near the gill arch. Since then, gills have evolved into lungs and the gill arch has become the dorsal aorta in mammals.
4. The DNA code informs, programs a cell's behavior. 
Wow! God invented binary and made our DNA in the same way, according to creationists.

Obviously someone heard this and thought that it was an easy way to explain the complexities of DNA sequencing: “it’s just like binary, see, very simple.” Except it’s not a simple sequence of the positioning of zeros and ones. It’s a little more complex than that. Besides if God had “did it” then why didn’t he explain it to his mouthpieces instead of telling them that their children originated in their “bowels.” 

You’d think that an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent god would know all about his creation wouldn’t you?
2 Samuel 7:12:... I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.Isaiah 49:19 Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof…
But that’s not the end of the incorrect science in the Bible, if God is all-knowing (if he exists of course), you’d think he’d know...
...that bats are not birds: Deuteronomy 14:18 And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
...that rabbits (and hares) do not “chew the cud:” Leviticus 11:6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
...that snails do not melt: Psalms 58:8 As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away...
...that fowls do not come from the ground, or water: Genesis 1:20 ...let the waters bring forth..the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth. 21:...great whales,… which the waters brought forth.
...that is would be impossible to see “all the kingdoms of the earth” no matter how high the mountain: Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
...that snakes do not “eat dirt:” Genesis 3:14:...and dust thou shalt eat all the days of thy life.
...that the earth doesn’t hang "upon nothing:" Job 26:7...and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

The DNA code, like a floppy disk of binary code, is quite simple in its basic paired structure. However, it's the sequencing and functioning of that code that's enormously complex. Through recent technologies like x-ray crystallography, we now know that the cell is not a "blob of protoplasm", but rather a microscopic marvel that is more complex than the space shuttle. The cell is very complicated, using vast numbers of phenomenally precise DNA instructions to control its every function.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Does God exist - part 2

Having established that when someone says “God does exist!” they are speaking about the God of the Old Testament, not Zeus or Mithras, let’s take a look at the evidence for that existence, and I’m going to quote from a Christian website  I’ll deal with each of their claims:

1. The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
The site then goes on to quote the size of the earth, and its distance from the sun, water, the human brain, and the human eye.

The complexity of our planet? Shall we see how complex the people who wrote about how God “created the universe” saw his creation? 
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning  God created the heaven and the earth. 2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4...and God divided the light from the darkness. 5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 
He creates day and night before the sun?
Hmm! Had this God actually done the creation, wouldn’t the writing of the creation have read something like this:
In the beginning, God caused an explosion in the firmament which gave shape to the earth and all the stars and the planets. And he caused one of the stars to glow brightly giving off great heat which caused the planets to spin around it. One of the planets, he called “the earth.” And he caused the light and heat from the star, which he called “the sun” to shine down upon the surface of the earth.
The Bible doesn’t explain the complexity of the planets, it merely gives the Creator the ability to make it all in the matter of a few hours. I’m not impressed.

All the nonsense the site quotes about the size of the earth and the distance from the sun, has nothing to do with God putting it there, the instant it was “created” but rather as a result of billions of years of chaos that eventually slowed down to the point where the earth’s surface was stable and friendly enough for life to form. 

The size of the earth? Those people who wrote the Bible, and in fact until people were persecuted for suggesting that the earth was spherical in shape and rotated around the sun, everybody, including the God-inspired ‘scientists’ thought that the earth was flat, and that they would fall off the end of it if they travelled far enough. How come “God” didn’t disabuse them of this error?

They quote water as being perfect for drinking because it is ‘tasteless,’ really? I’ve tasted some pretty nasty-tasting water in my time. And the water of the sea is not exactly perfect for drinking. Or did the writer of that website forget that little detail?

The human brain, the human eye? Is the human indeed “God’s greatest creation ever?” What about the compound eyes of insects, surely the complexity of their eyesight and the relative size of their brains makes them far more interesting and again, more complex, than those of humans. But seeing we’re concentrating on the Intelligent Design argument that the ‘human eye’ couldn’t have happened “by accident” and that there had to be an intelligent designer behind it, I’ll quote something said to me by a fellow poster on one of the forums I frequent: 
Surely, God could have made better eyes, and ones which didn't lose performance with age quite so much. Wouldn't we appreciate the wonders of the divine universe even more if we could see into the ultraviolet and infrared, like some animals do?

More to follow...later.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Does God exist?

Before I go into the question, I want to try to explain what is meant by ‘God.’

To Christians: he is the loving father figure. The kindly grandfather, father of Jesus, who gave his only son to die, so that people who accept Jesus can live forever, with Jesus, in Heaven. And Christian literature depicts this ‘heaven’ as a place similar to that promised by God in the Old Testament when he was chatting to Moses about getting the Hebrews out of Egypt. It’s a land flowing with milk and honey, where there will be no pain, no heartache, no wars, eternal peace and so on. In other words everything that people would like the real world to be. Christians actually buy this nonsense, literally buy it, because they hand over vast sums of money every Sunday to listen to some prelate or other pontificate about how ‘sinful’ the earth and everyone in it is, including the congregants who are paying for his keep.
To Jews: God is the punisher. He is JHVH of the Old Testament who punished his ‘backsliding’ chosen people by allowing the Romans to destroy their temple in Jerusalem after which he allowed the Muslims to build their own temple on the ruins. God loves them in the way that an over-bearing authoritarian father loves his children, by beating them. They continue to pine to return to Jerusalem as it was it the golden days just after they rebuilt the temple and before Alexander’s heirs wrested it away from them, beginning the cycle of possession that exists until today. 

To Muslims: he is ‘Allah’ also the god of the Old Testament, but he is not the god who gave the inheritance to Isaac. Their version gave the inheritance to Ishmael and Esau. Muslims believe that the Jews stole Isaac’s inheritance when Jacob conned Isaac into handing it to him, just after Isaac stole it from Ishmael. They also believe that Jesus was a prophet similar to Mohammed who tried to interpret God’s will to the people, and failed, leaving the way open for Mohammed to do the job and thereby deliver the true message of God, who they then named “Allah.” 

To agnostics: he may or may not exist. They don’t care. They hedge their bets by saying “well I don’t exactly know if he doesn’t exist, but I can’t say for certain that he doesn’t, because no one can prove it either way!”

To atheists: there are some who are prepared to give all the above the benefit of the doubt, and they also don’t care. They are too busy proving everything else in the universe to bother with whether or not something unprovable does or doesn’t exist.

Then there are atheists who militantly say, “no, he does not exist, but if you think you can show me that he does, bring the evidence!”

It is not up to the people who don’t believe in gods to prove that the gods don’t exist. The people who do believe in him (and it’s only the god of the Bible that people fight about, no one really cares whether the Hindu gods, or Buddha or the gods of the aborigines of Australia exist) adamantly demand that non-believers prove he doesn’t exist. They believe he exists because the Bible says so! 

If you want me to believe in your particular fantasy, then prove to me that the fantasy is real, and not merely the meanderings of your mind. I don’t believe in fairies and goblins and ghosts either, to me they don’t exist. I’m not the one making extraordinary claims about supernatural events. If you are claiming that some deity is watching over your every move, and actually gives a damn about whether John marries Peter or Jane marries Mary, or whether India or Canada win the cricket world cup, then you prove to me that he exists. Until you do, I’ll continue the way I have for almost six decades, I’m happy to live without the supernatural in my life. I have more than enough reality to cope with, and at the end of my life, I don’t care about eternity if I can’t spend it here on this earth where all the people I love right now will be living.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Creation, various hypotheses

In case you thought that people who believe in biblical creation all believe that the earth was created by God in six days after which he invented weekends, this is not so.

Our friends who deny evolution and the “Big Bang” also have their ‘theories’ about what the story in Genesis 1 says. There are three main schools of thought.

The Literal 24-hour view:
This view states that the earth was created in six actual days, and that God rested on the seventh exactly as it says in Genesis, and its proponents are people such as Martin Luther the German priest who started the Reformation. He believed that Moses was literal (yes, he believed that Moses wandered around the desert with a pen and paper in his hands). Then in modern times there was Henry Morris, an American and a founder of the American Creationist movement, who wrote extensively on the subject, stating categorically that the six-day creation was real.

The day-age view:
This view holds that the ‘days’ refer to ‘ages’ or ‘epochs’ such as the era of the people in the Old Testament and that those people with their own long ages were living in the same ‘era.’ This is the view of people such as Charles Hodge who was the principal of the Princeton Theological Seminary in the 19th century and Hugh Ross, an astronomer and astrophysicist from Canada, who promotes Old Earth creationism. He gets around the universe’s age by saying that although the earth is billions of years old, a “supernatural agent” formed life in progressive stages.

The Figurative 24-hour view:
Augustine of Hippo, whose writings influenced the development of Christianity and who lived in the late 4th and early 5th centuries in Africa, believed that the account in Genesis was a “literary device” and not historical narrative. Today we have Robert Godfrey, a Council member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He says, as does Augustine, that God’s ways are not for us to understand or explain and therefore that even creation occurred exactly the way that God wanted it to happen. 

Wouldn’t you think, even if there was the slightest truth in the creation as written in the Old Testament, that the people who believe in it would at least be able to agree to what degree it is “true?”

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Is the Bible sacrosanct?

Does the Bible warrant special ‘privilege’ from being critiqued, the way that any other ancient text is analysed and even ridiculed for inaccurate content? Is the Bible sacrosanct:

ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from Latin sacrosanctus, from sacro ‘by a sacred rite’ (ablative of sacrum) + sanctus ‘holy.’  
(esp. of a principle, place, or routine) regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with : the individual's right to work has been upheld as sacrosanct.[From the Mac OS dictionary]

When someone undertakes a study of history, they are required to read and familiarise themselves with the original texts written by eye-witnesses or reporters who may themselves have had access to original text. The student is also required to be able to evaluate that text for its validity as an original source. 

In the absence of any other written text about the Ancient Near East, the Bible is offered as one of these ‘original’ source documents. However, when the text is evaluated and compared with what other forms of research uncover from the same period, the writer who announces that the stories written in the Bible do not agree with the science, is him/herself criticised for reading the Bible only for that purpose.

Also as atheists we are often asked why we ‘nitpick’ about the extravagance of the genocides, or the ‘facts’ of the flood and the plagues, and we are told to assess the ‘good’ and the ‘morality’ stories without hammering on about how the ten plagues and a forty-year wandering in the desert are an improbability.

As an example I would like to quote from another book written around the same time as the Old Testament, Thuycidides’ The Peloponnesian War Book 2 [Penguin Books, 1954, pp 143-151] 
In the same winter the Athenians, following their annual custom, gave a public funeral for those who had been the first to die in the war...When the bones have been laid in the earth, a man chosen by the city for his intellectual gifts and for his general reputation makes an appropriate speech in praise of the dead, and after the speech all depart.
The writer then goes to to quote, word-for-word, the contents of the speech delivered by Pericles, the son of Xanthippus, which I won’t quote but which is easily found in websites on the subject all over the internet. Suffice to say that the speech goes on for the next eight pages of the book.

Now, any logical, rational-thinking person would say that given the period in which the book was written, 431-430 BCE, the only way that the writer would have been able to record the speech in its entirety would have been to write it down as it was being spoken. There is, however, no evidence that Thuycidides was even present at the funeral. 

He says of his writing:
And with regard to my factual reporting of the events of the war I have made it a principle not to write down the first story that came my way, and not even to be guided by my own general impressions; either I was present myself at the events which I have described or else I heard them from eye-witnesses whose reports I have checked with as much thoroughness as possible. Not that even so the truth was easy to discover: different eye-witnesses gave different accounts of the same events, speaking out of partiality for one side or the other or else from imperfect memories (I,22).
Thus even this writer admits that his reports were not first-hand and that “different eye-witnesses gave different accounts of the same events…”

If we are to take the Bible seriously, shouldn’t we put it through the same stringent tests that we use for this other book, and the others of the same period. Even more so, surely, with the Bible because of the power that it has 2,000 years later?

So, why is the Bible sacrosanct? Is it because it is the unerring, infallible "Word of God?" Then if that is the case, how do we know that the words written are, indeed, the “words” of “God” when we have no evidence that God himself actually exists.

Had Thuycidides claimed that he was inspired by Zeus, and if there was a whole cult of Zeus in our society claiming that every single word as written was the absolute truth in his would, there would be as many Zeus-atheists as there are Jehovah atheists. And there would also be a whole group of people shouting "blasphemy" every time a Zeus atheist said that Thuycidides couldn't possibly have reported Pericles' exact words. 

Finally, if the Bible is sacrosanct; if it is the word of the all-powerful, all-seeing, all-creating almighty God, then it should also not contain any errors or even self-contradictions. Because it does contain errors and self-contradictions, it is not infallible and it is not the word of a perfect God, it is not sacrosanct.

My opinion is that people have to accept that, for as long as they are going to tell us that the Bible is unfailing, and that the words in it are inspired by God, we shall continue to examine and probe this particular book more than any other, simply because none of the others claim that their writers were inspired by gods, and none of the other books are offered to us as being essential to living a "moral" life.