A day in the life of God… oh wait.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

1: the time of light between one night and the next
2: the period of rotation of a planet (as earth) or a moon on its axis
3: the mean solar day of 24 hours beginning at mean midnight
According to Genesis, God created the Sun on the fourth day. Seeing as how days are measured by the above criteria, I’d like to know how this was determined. If nothing else, this should be a good  example that the bible is solely the word of man and not inspired by any divine entity.
A day is literally meaningless the second you leave earth. Sure, you can still measure time in such increments – but they are based on the way the earth turns. Without the earth, a day to us wouldn’t be anything. A day on another planet is quite a different length of time. So why would a supernatural entity, obviously not confined to any planet (at least not one we know of) even bother describing these increments of time in which He created things days. A day would not even have existed until the fourth ‘day’ where He finally created the sun.
Or, if a ‘day’ to God is more like a thousand years to us, or six thousand, or whatever number – this suggest we have some sort of knowledge that God lives on a planet where a day is that length of time as set by whichever star that God’s home planet rotates around. A day is a measurement of time that is literally meaningless without a planet within a solar system by which to define it. So, if this text were divinely inspired, why would there not be a different increment of time used to describe the creation of the world? A day only applies to us earthly creatures, not to a supernatural one.
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Neil deGrasse Tyson, my secret soulmate.

Why Evolution Is True

According to MinutePhysics, the Templeton Foundation asked astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson to answer the question, “Does the universe has a purpose?” Now I’m not sure whether they paid him to answer (taking such money would, in my view, be offensive), but I don’t think they’ll like Tyson’s answer given in the short video below. (It’s illustrated with MinutePhysics’ drawings.) Tyson’s a wee bit on-the-fencey, but definitely suggests that creatures make their own purpose.

Give this a listen; it’s only 2.5 minutes long. And his answer, toward the end of the video, is pretty clear:

“So while I cannot claim to know for sure whether or not the universe has a purpose, the case against it is strong—and visible to anybody who sees the universe as it is, rather than as they wish it to be.”

If that’s not an explicit rejection of religion, I don’t know what is.

Tyson…

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The thing about atheism.

The thing about atheism is that, if you’re not running into those who are just labeling themselves as such on principal and without much research, is that people really misunderstand it.

It isn’t something we readily label ourselves with to set ourselves apart. It isn’t necessarily a ‘movement’ of sorts. It isn’t any one set of beliefs or characteristics that unites multiple atheists (unless the individual atheists want it to be). It’s not a religious belief, because I’m not taking anything on faith. It’s a default position.

It’s a default position to not believe something for which there is no proof, until or unless someone can present proof for their case. Atheism is that for me more than anything else. This site is about the only place I come to talk about the ideas that I have as they relate to religion, atheism, and agnosticism. But I do not assert there is no god – I do however assert that there is no such god as the world’s religions would view this being. I think that if there is a God, although unlikely and still there is no reason to assume so, this being is not a concept that humanity understands. He has not inspired any chosen people with His divine teachings. Hell, I’m not even sure that if some supernatural creature created the universe that it would be interested in us afterwards.

I am an atheist because the world of religion is contradictory and subjective, there are no objective reasons to believe in any religion on this planet. Not one of them holds any definitive proof. If there were proof, I would not be an atheist. I am not an atheist on principal, but I do seek the truth on principal – and truth and research has brought me to an atheistic view of the world.

Atheism can be more, but before it is anything else, it is this. Some people skip over this so fast they forget to contemplate it. Atheism can be a movement – to the right people. However, I personally would view secularism as the movement (which I fully support) and you don’t have to be atheist to be a secularist.

Fine tuning – addendum

I made a short post 2 days ago on fine-tuning, and I decided I’d like to go more in depth. Fine-tuning is perhaps, the only almost solid argument any theist might have for the existence of a God, but then again it isn’t. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if I could still call myself an atheist because this very argument confused me to no end, although I still remained largely on the atheistic side of thinking because even though the arguments made me think, they didn’t prove anything. So I’ve done some more reading and would like to reiterate and even add my own ideas on top of why this argument doesn’t prove anything about any divine entity.

Often I run into someone saying something along the lines of this to me, that if even one of the physical laws that determine the workings of the universe were different, that life very well would not be possible for the universe to foster. Since we have this set of physical laws, someone must have put them in place. The problem I run into here is the assumption that all life that could be created would be similar to how we perceive it – which there is no reason to believe that this is absolutely true. Different forms of life very well may form under other conditions, just because it isn’t life we would be familiar with, doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be possible under different conditions in a differently working universe. This life just wouldn’t function in the way that we do, biologically.

The other more common argument I hear is that the earth is in the optimal place in the solar system for life as we know it to have originated here. We also have water, and a lot of it. Now, if there’s one thing I know it’s that humans have an uncanny need to attribute coincidence to the supernatural. In all the billions, trillions, who really knows how many galaxies, each with (on average) somewhere between a billion and trillions of stars in them – is it so hard to realize that these conditions would be met somewhere in the universe, in AT LEAST one solar system? This should not hold the shock value that it does for so many. Yes, we got lucky – but this does not automatically point to the supernatural.

Now, these are the two most obvious ones, but seeing as how I’m sick right now and spending too much time not doing anything, I have a lot of time to think.

Now, I don’t know everything about string theory or the possibility of a multiverse other than what is basically common knowledge, but this is a point worth considering. If there are multiple universes, vast amounts of them connected by some means, then how can we even know that in the whole of existence that the occurrence of universes that can foster life are not abundant? What if these conditions are normal and we are not as lucky as we think we are – but an average event across all existence? We simply assume, for no good reason really, that a universe in which there are optimal conditions for life to happen in is an uncommon occurrence. We have no reason to assert that this statement could be true, given that we’ve only been looking at the universe in scientific terms for a short period of time, especially compared to the amount of time that surrounds human beings even existing. Perhaps there are many universes capable of fostering life – life as we know it or not – and the occurrences of universes that don’t foster life is an uncommon one? Now, I’m not asserting that string theory is true, only that it is very reasonably possible considering what we know and that this is a point that should be considered.

However, my favorite point that I’ve come across is that the earth is not ‘built’ for us. It wasn’t made especially for us, we were made because of it. If the earth was a place ideal for human habitation, explain to me volcanoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, weather which we couldn’t reasonably survive in without man-made dwellings and clothing, and the abundance of predators capable of ripping us apart and making us part of the food chain (although clearly this is not common anymore, I’m talking more along the lines of the conditions ancient people had to live in). If this world is specifically for us, human beings, social creatures – why are the continents separated by vast bodies of water? Why are there large mountain ranges that make it hard for people to travel across? The only way we overcome these things are by man-made, scientific means – we shape the world to suit our needs, it’s what humans do. If the world were made with us specifically in mind as ours and the rest of the animal kingdom just exists for us, then why does the the world not reflect that? Why must we overcome natural obstacles by creating unnatural means (airplanes, cars, ships) to connect with our fellow human beings if the world is engineered specifically for us? Unfortunately for theists, it makes abundantly more sense that we are products of this world, rather than that it is a product for us.

There are scholars who touch on these ideas, far more elegantly and knowledgeably than I do, but the argument for a fine-tuned universe is well.. by no means solid. It is a philosophical claim, speculation, it holds no proof or evidence for God.

Why religious morality is subjective and not objective.

I’m sure other atheists have run into this argument – that religion provides an objective morality without which we would not be able to tell right from wrong without subjectivity coming into play. Now, this post isn’t even about whether or not an objective morality exists (although I will eventually post about that), it’s about why religious morality is NOT objective and it’s illogical to claim that it is.

Is there any good reason, let’s say between Islam and Christianity, to believe that Allah is more believable/true than Yahweh? Or to believe Hinduism or maybe Buddhism over one of the Abrahamic religions? No, these religions all have about the same amount of evidence – none. They all hold ancient religious texts that contradict themselves (except perhaps Buddhism, although I have never read the Pali Cannon or other texts in their entirety and haven’t done much research on it, since the teachings have nothing to do with a divine creator and more with enlightenment, morality, and the cycle of reincarnation) and hold stories of myths and events that are impossible (Jonah and the fish.. or whale.. depends on who you speak to). People choose and believe religions for subjective reasons – faith, because it offers comfort, because the words of these holy texts speak to them on certain levels – but never for objective ones – reasons that would present testable evidence. If there was an objective reason to believe in any religion, I would not be an atheist. And since all religions claim to hold the only real truth, obviously even IF one of them held the truth, that would leave thousands of belief systems being well… wrong. This isn’t news though, or at least it shouldn’t be.

So, having established that belief in religion is subjective – how could you possibly claim that the beliefs taught by that religion are objective, when there are only subjective reasons to even believe that the religion is true or that God exists? How can something be objective if there is NO reason, no evidence, no verifiable proof to suggest that the supposed being that’s handing down these moral rules even exists?

The existence of God is either reality, or it isn’t. And since there’s no solid reason to assume there is a God, why would I logically accept that the teachings of any one God – there are many to pick from – are objective? Objectivity is completely separate from faith, and since faith (the state of believing without need for evidence that something is true) is the main component of religious belief that makes the belief itself subjective, (there are philosophical components, but none that provide evidence) they are mutually exclusive in every way.

 

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Before I end this, an update on the Looking Glass posts (just ignore this whole chunk if you don’t know what I’m talking about) : I am still working on the first one, but with finals coming up I have a strong suspicion I’m going to have to put that on hold until the semester ends and I’m not typing up so many papers to the point that I can’t even enjoy writing something long on here.

Good news – Cards for Collin

Time for some good news, fellow bloggers.

This little boy, who had little chance of surviving cancer, has now been in remission for almost a year because of new treatments. His single father is asking people send Collin cards on the anniversary of his transplant that saved his life – Dec. 21 – congratulating him and wishing him a merry Christmas. This will be the first holiday seasons the 7-year-old hasn’t been in the hospital for, I am definitely sending him a card.

Here’s a link to the news story – http://pahomepage.com/fulltext?nxd_id=294882

Intelligence and faith.

You want to know something that really, really irks me? The fact that there are atheists in the world who go around saying things that suggest that having a belief in any religion makes a person less intelligent than an atheist or even stupid.

I did not become smarter when I stopped believing, my I.Q. didn’t jump up any number of points, and in the period of time that I was a believer I was not dumber for it.
What changed was my willingness to listen to the opposite side, the amount of information I had available to me, and a willingness to admit I was wrong and that I really didn’t have life figured out to any extent the way I thought I had before. I did not get smarter though, and I’m tired of having to explain to Christians that I don’t believe that they’re stupid because some other atheists took it upon themselves to believe so. It genuinely makes me sad that this has become a battle of intelligence.

There are perfectly intelligent people of all religions who do amazing things, there are scientists who have made significant breakthroughs all while still holding a belief in God. There are doctors that save lives and believe in God. There are people who do not believe in God who consider themselves superior in terms of intelligence and yet have nothing to show for that intelligence.

So I’m here, as an atheist, to say that I do not think that any of you religious people are believers because you may be stupid. I believe that there are believers because maybe there are too many people who don’t have all of the information available to them, because indoctrination and fear in religious dogma is a very hard thing to shake, because people often believe they won’t be as happy without religion and God, because humans are unbelievably stubborn and routed in tradition (old habits die hard), because no one has any other answers that are so satisfactory, because religion offers the hope of an afterlife, and because religion is effective at manipulating the way people think and playing on the most human parts of us. Does this mean that there aren’t people who came to their faith through ignorance and because they do not understand the opposing side? No, there are stupid people who come to their beliefs because their stupidity brought them there – but atheists can also be among this group of people when they do not attempt to understand why they are atheists, when they do not look for reason, when they do not even attempt to understand the other side, but just claim that God does not exist without any more reason for thinking so than a Christian who does believe.

So why am I even bringing this up? Because it’s impossible to have productive, meaningful conversations with theists if they think that I just dismiss them because I think I’m smarter than them just because they believe something I think to be false. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, all of those – they’ve presented pretty good, confusing arguments to keep believing that intelligent people could reasonably believe. They also offer a sort of poetic aspect in explaining the world that science doesn’t have, which makes it even more favorable – especially to a creative mind. So I’m not trying to argue about who is wrong or right with this post, because my position is clear, only that intelligence doesn’t guarantee that you’ll believe one or the other.

Everyone is welcome on my blog, you can all rest assured I won’t resort to calling you stupid because of your faith if you’re a theist. However, if I do call you stupid (and you’d be hard-pressed to put me in such a sour mood where I’d start calling you names) then it’s probably because you have demonstrated your stupidity in some other way.