Saturday, June 30, 2007

God's a gang banger?

He was kidding - he had to be. Of course this is a guy that says, "Hope you didn't pay more than $2 for those classes." I paid about $4 and they are just for reading. He asks, "You still worshiping Satan?" "Ya", I reply. I still think Christians are full of it.

He tells me about a pastor from back in his earlier years who was the real deal - living it. The genuine article. He loved this pastor. Why do they always need to turn the guy into a saint before they quote him. Credibility, I guess.

Seems this pastor used to say, "If the Big Bang happened God banged it." Must have been a really, really old pastor to have known that. I wasn't there so I don't feel qualified to unequivocally declare that God, or anything else, was the cause of the effect of the expansion of the Universe.

And that was pretty much it. I said a few things, but he wasn't really listening. It was a one way conversation. He'd done his duty. He'd spoken for God working for my salvation. It wasn't a discussion. It wasn't an inquiry into the ultimate nature of the universe or how we determine truth. It felt like I was wrong and he was right and I needed to be told something.

Why is it always that way? Why do they never want to actually discuss the facts or hear any sort of criticism of their position - of their flawed arguments? It's drive by philosophy. Bang, bang you're wrong. Here, let me unload a clip and drive off. Hope that did the trick. See you in heaven...if you make it. Good thing we are friends.

Scientific unreasoning

I still get emails forwarded to me by Christians who think that I still subscribe to their nonsense. The truth is, all these sorts of emails irritated me all along - they just are more foreign in their "though process" now.

This was one of the stories in an email entitled: "7 reasons not to mess with children."

7 reasons not to mess with children.
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.
The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah".
The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"
The little girl replied, "Then you ask him ".

I'm sure that Evangelical soccer moms just love this little story. It, and the other 6 stories, are probably not true but written by some Pastor who feels that he's being clever with his illustrations. Perfect fodder for and most certainly urban legend. It is offensive and expresses the judgmental attitude toward actually thinking about an issue with any amount of rationality. We should be horrified that this attitude is transmitted into children; what is more likely is that it engenders pride and satisfaction.

What is frightening is that not only children think this way, but adult Christians can also fall into this line of thought. My Christian friends loved to sidestep issues in a debate and redirect the conversation away from a fact debate and into a religious or spiritual one. A discussion over the age of the Earth is deviated into a faith and trust one. Rather than examine the evidence from science the issue is reframed into the role of the Bible and our relationship to its authority. Authority of the Bible is exactly what is in peril should the evidence from science and observation be allowed to stand. The evidence refutes a part of the Bible or at least an interpretation of it.

But then again I also like the T-Shirt I saw recently related to the above story:

I may be going to hell, but at least you won't be there.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The issolation of education

Over the past months I've read a number of books in an effort to "catch up". I've read:

  • The Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change, Paul Andrew Mayewski
  • Potassium-argon dating, G. Brent Dalrymple
  • Age of the Earth, G. Brent Dalrymple
  • Science Held Hostage, Howard J. Van Till
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Ancient Egypt (read only the first few chapters)
  • Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism, Andrew J. Petto (Editor)
  • The God Who Wasn't There [DVD] (dumb)
  • The Two-Mile Time Machine, Richard B. Alley
  • The Creationists, Ron Numbers

This, in addition to watching innumerable Science Channel programs, "The Tomb of Jesus", and many articles from Scientific American (online) and other journals. I've read many article from Talk.Origins as well as some from Reasons to Believe. I've gone through most of a course from The Teaching Company on scientific discoveries that gave a good survey of physics, astronomy and quantum theory.

I've also had both my parents, my wife and friends try to pursuade me that I'm wrong with some of the most inane arguments - but ones that I used to use also. I've had my dad tell me that a world noted expert on DNA has declared that he can't believe in evolution due to his research on DNA, but also seen that he's (my dad) has failed to forward me the researchers name or where he has published. I've had him argue that Greenland can not possibly have 110,000 years of ice since it was a green land at the time of the Vikings; hence the name. Yet this reflects a total lack of understanding of where the Norse lived on greenland, when they settled there and why they ultimately faded out. (They lived there only during the warm period just before the recent "Little Ice Age".)

In the end I've come to two conclusions about the Christians/creationists around me:

  1. They are more ignorant than I was about all things science and historic that is not a part of the Christian "talking points" and tradition.
  2. They are wrong, dead wrong but refuse to listen to any illumination that might "deceive" them from their world view

I have shot right past the "anger" stage, through the disgust stage and currently really don't know what to make of all of it. I note that for centuries now honest and educated scientists and students have been forced to accept the antiquity of the earth and the evidence of evolution; they have generally adopted the "theistic evolutionist" position so despised and derided by fundamentalists, or have simply come to view religion and the Bible in terms of alegory and myth.

Presently I find it impossible to discuss science with any Christians or to attend any Christian function. Given my new perspective much of what they say now sounds ludicrous to me. Either I am more aware of what is false or have been deceived into a way of thinking that is unable to detect truth. Either way, the spell is broken.

I also, however, find the virulent Atheists anoying as well. While "The noble lie" of Plato might explain the beginnings of religious thought insisting that we must now stamp out all religion as lie falsely assumes that we've proven all religious thought is indeed a lie. Finding flaws and suspecting that religion was created and promulgated to control the masses does not disprove the existence of a diety. Neither does it explain why Hutchens and other Atheists look simply miserable and angry. Give me happy Christian ignorance over obnoxious Atheist anger any day.