Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Common creationalist misconceptions.

This is a response to a comment on my blog awhile ago, which I just today had the time to tackle.  I’m chipping at some common Christian misconceptions.  This is not to say that only Christians make these errors, or they are the only errors.  These are just some that my dad made.

I said “They all say that” in response to the statement “I am right because God says so.”   It was said that they all say the sum of two and two is four as well.  That’s not a proper comparison.  Everyone agreeing that 2 + 2 = 4 is fine, because four is not mutually exclusive.  The four of the Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists, is all the same.  However, they all say that they act in accordance with the divine.  Their answers are mutually exclusive, so the fact that they all say they have the answer says that most, if not all, of them are wrong.  Consider, 150 men in room saying they are the President of Bolivia.  It is a mutually exclusive claim.  At least 149 of them must be lying, perhaps all.  Suspicion is warranted when “That’s what they all say.” applies to subjects to which there can be only one correct answer, but there are, instead many.

Next it was said that God demands worship in the Bible, so the real question is not which God is real, but is the Bible true.  True enough, but a bit misleading.  The Koran also claims to be the word of God, as does the book of Mormon.  The question is not “Which of these books is true?”  To ask that is to assume that one is, in fact true.   The question is, “Are any of these books true?”

Then it was said, creation demands a creator.  Yes, and no.  Design demands a design process.  Who is the designer of open source software?  Who provides the central, top down, single design vision? No one.  The developers are volunteers, they take the code and change what they feel like.  Changes which make the software fitter are kept.  When changes make the software less fit, they are removed, and the software continues to exist.  There is a design process, but no designer.  Natural selection provides this for life.

“The Bible is scientific, logical, and believable.”  No it’s not.  Talking donkeys, suns stopping in the sky, unicorns, etc.   Do not kid yourself.  If you chose to believe the Bible despite these things, that’s fine, but please don’t pretend that it’s logical.

“The only other explanation is atheism”  Several billion Muslims and Buddhists would beg to differ.

“If the world could be proven to be approximately 7k years old, then that would prove the Bible was true.”  I wasn’t aware the truth of the Bible was up for debate, and dependent upon scientific evidence.  If that’s so, the Bible is clearly wrong, case closed.  If the Bible is true regardless of proof, what possible point could there be in discussing proof?

The thickness of the dust on the moon.  *sigh*  This argument is totally bogus, and I will let this link do the talking.

The giant redwoods do have precursor species and have nothing to do with the flood.

Mount Saint Helen’s formations were ash, not rock, and have nothing to do with anything in particular with other formations.

Polystrate trees: first this then this, and finally this:  What percentage of the worlds strata reveals polystrate trees vs the percentage that doesn’t?  Then explain why an anomaly that appears less then 1/100 of 1% of the time says anything about how well the theory works in general.  If you accept the logic that the slightest irregularity destroys a whole theory, I have some Bible verses for you.

I need sources sited for fossils smelling like fish, and intact bone marrow, to research that.

“The funny thing is, of course, that “science” will try and keep coming up with something, anything rather than accept that the design was intelligent and that requires an Intelligent Designer”

Well, yes, that’s science’s job to describe things in natural rather than supernatural terms.  Once upon a time, everybody just knew that you got sick from supernatural forces, but science corrected that.  With time it will correct other things that people attribute to the divine.   And religion will will continue to fight any encroachment of its power over people.

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February 10, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Paranormal, Religion, Uncategorized | , , , , | 27 Comments

Godless heathens sin less

This blows my mind.  Instead of blogging about it like I normally do, I just wanted to present the article in it’s entirety here.  So direct from the London times…

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.

He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.

Mr Paul delayed releasing the study until now because of Hurricane Katrina. He said that the evidence accumulated by a number of different studies suggested that religion might actually contribute to social ills. “I suspect that Europeans are increasingly repelled by the poor societal performance of the Christian states,” he added.

He said that most Western nations would become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven. Likewise, the theory of evolution would not enjoy majority support in the US unless there was a marked decline in religious belief, Mr Paul said.

“The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.

“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Government, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A letter to God

This is not a flippant thing that I am about to do. I think a lot of people who care about me are really confused about what I believe, so I am going to give you all a view into a letter to God that I am sincerely writing as well as posting. If you, the blog readers, think you have an answer that can backed up, please feel free to answer any of the questions below in a comment.

Dear God,

I don’t get you. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten you. I know people say this is because you can’t be gotten, but I don’t buy that. Even if I never understood you, thats what friends do, they try to understand where each other are coming from. People tell me that you want to be my friend, and I guess I want to be yours. I say “I guess” because I am not really sure. I hear that you offer a love like no other, but you seem to charge a price like no other as well. The US Military (my employer) says I must offer my life for them. This I must do only once, and often as not, should the opportunity arise it will be to save my comrades. You demand not a single, ill-though, impassioned second to save those I love, but every second, of every moment, of everyday, for the rest of my life. My job demands my life but once. You demand it forever, in this existence and the next.

All that I know about you is contained in my heart, the words of those around me, the world around me, and the Bible. Though emotions give life color and verity, they make a poor compass. I will not trust my heart to know you, not if I believe what you say in the Bible. You say the heart is “deceitfully wicked”. I can’t trust what is deceitfully wicked to guide me. And the heart is capricious, loving someone one moment and hating them the next. Thats why a good man speaks from his mind not his heart, which you also say: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”

The words of those around me are sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly, but regardless of specific instance, generally useless when its about the spirit. Truth is not true because of consensus, it either conforms to reality or it doesn’t. Besides if my heart is wicked why are other peoples’ hearts different? I cannot be alone in my sin: “For all have sinned…” When it comes to you, everyone has an agenda and I can’t trust anybody who claims your name to say to me only what benefits you and not what benefits the speaker.

The world around me is beautiful. I love the trees and ocean. I like to ride my bike in the roasting sun and have the wind blow the sand stinging against my legs. I see around me beauty and order. Because the world you have made is full of order I see man’s greatest dream over my head everyday. We always wanted to fly. With the physics you made as part of the universe you created and the minds you gave us we figured out how to make great tubes of aluminum fly through the air not as stupid bullets, but guided in flight by our hands, obeying our constant whim. Science, the systematic study of a rational universe, is the greatest tool we have ever found. Because with science, we can make an airplane fly, and our ancestors could not. Yet… you and science that describes your creation are not in agreement. You claim to have made the earth in 7 days, and the genealogies you provide in Scripture tell us that the earth is about 7000 years old. The science that gives us such a window into the depth and power of the Mind that designed all says that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.

I trust the descriptions of this rational universe we live in to be true everyday. Every day I use my front door because I trust that I still can’t walk through my wall. Every week I put gas in my car and expect to get around 30 mpg. This is because I trust that the description of the combustion of hydrocarbons with oxygen producing CO, CO2, water vapor, and l trace amounts of various things will function the way they always have since the 1600’s when we began to study such things. But the science that flawlessly describes the 60 cycle alternating current which is invisibly turning my monitor off and on with clock-like precision mysteriously fails totally to date the earth I live on.

Contained in my blood is DNA, which I have always believed that you were the author of. The ability to even visualize this DNA did not exist until 50 years ago, and I’ve thought us blessed that we could have this lens into how “fearfully and wonderfully made” that we are. My father, dying of a virus, may yet be saved by the executed knowledge of DNA to create a cure. The tens of of thousands of people cured by the recombinant DNA created were saved by man doing his best to manipulate the physics you created. Yet this knowledge points to evolution. The more we know about DNA the more man appears to be related to African Apes. False conclusions show themselves in false results, but recombinant DNA heals. How can it be so repeatably, veritably right in all regards but this one?

Finally, the Bible, my source of meaning and context since childhood. The Bible I have is a Protestant Bible. It does not contain the Apocrypha, because that is not part of the Protestant tradition. The Catholic Bible does contain it, because of the Council of Trent in the 1500’s, over a millennium after it was written, decided it too was canon. But it wasn’t written when it happened. Your word was written 50 to 100 years after the events it describes happens often by people who weren’t there. Why? Why would wait a century to write your inspired word? If the writers were writing your words, why was the canonicity of many unestablished till the 400’s? Then, a more then a millennium later at Trent, the Catholic Church had to take a stand. Luther’s sola scriptura meant for the first time the Catholics had decide what was scripture (since prior to this tradition and papal bulls were equal in authority to scripture).

God, this looks horribly like humans, not like you. Your omnipotence seems sorely lacking in all these proceedings, as clearly as it is lacking in the actions of those who claim to act in your name. Please answer these questions, they confuse me very much

Sincerely,

The lost sheep

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments