Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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You Can’t Get Anywhere with Those People

Capture

From the facebook files:  Climate change experts have an agenda and don’t want to be confused with facts.  “What facts”, you might scratch your head and ask.  Why, the Bible, of course.  Who needs science?  Who needs experiments?  You have all the facts you need right there in the Bible.  It says so right in there.

“Will the circle be unbroken
Bye and bye Lord, bye and bye” – Johnny Cash

You just can’t make this stuff up, people.  In the words of Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.”


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A Little Housekeeping

sweepingI’ve taken down my Pics ‘n Places page and replaced it with a Resources page.  At present it is relatively sparse but I plan on adding quite a bit in the near future.  It will have tabs for Epistemology, Cosmology, and some more “ologies” as I get around to them.   These are resources I am finding beneficial and I thought I’d pass them along.  Perhaps others can glean something from them as well.


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Something from Nothing ~ The Big Bang

Because of a recent debate – if you can call it that – about the origins of the universe I’ve been looking into cosmology.  Since I’m one of the participants, I’m not sure you can call it a debate because I know next to nothing about cosmology.

When I say I know nothing about cosmology I mean it in the classical sense of nothing.  Zip. Zero. Nada. Emptiness. A giant void.

In an effort to educate myself a bit about this I’ve listened to two discussions between William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss.

This one:

Annnd this one:

I’ll be the first to admit this goes over my head to a large degree.  And I can’t listen to much more of either of these guys because they both become whiny sounding.

I’m now (as in as I type this) listening to this:

But if anyone wants to know what preceded the Big Bang and how something can come from nothing, here it is:

There was nothing in my head about cosmology.  Having listened to this stuff for a few hours my head is about to explode.  Stand back:  you’re about to see something come from nothing!

Seriously:  If anyone has good recommendations of any youtube videos or other material that talks about this stuff in somewhat elementary, backwoods, layman’s (whatever you wanna call it) I’d be happy to hear them.

Thanks!


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Proof?!? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Proof!

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Yeah….I don’t think the Word of God means what you think it means.

We don’t even have evidence that the Word of God is the word of god.  Perhaps no one reads that little preface to each book in their Bible?  That should be enough to at least raise a red flag – to make a person question certain presuppositions.  Maybe that preface isn’t in everyone’s Bible.  *shrug*

When each book is prefaced with, “We don’t know when this book was written – maybe sometime between here and here.  We don’t really know who wrote this book – it could possibly be the namesake but more likely someone who knew them or knew of them”, how is that not enough to make you dig a little further?  And how is it that you put so much trust in it’s divine inspiration?  J.K. Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter.  People have vivid imaginations.  That does not divine anything make.

But when you are told time and again that it is sinful to even question the nature of the Bible because it’s God don’t have nothin’ to prove – why, even the rocks cry out his praise – and faith in the absence of evidence is upheld as a noble endeavor you find comfort in not asking the questions.  Questions like ‘when was the last time you heard a rock cry out anything’?

Meh, who needs proof?


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The Atheist Challenge – My Response

I’ve seen the Atheist Challenge questionnaire making the rounds.  It’s questions made me stop and think and to try to articulate concisely what and why I believe as I now do. To give myself permission, if you will, to change and allow my beliefs to evolve.  It has hi-lighted some areas I’d like to delve into a little deeper to further my understanding of how I came to believe what I believed.  I am also now very intrigued by religion in general.  I’m fascinated by how the canon of scripture was developed and it’s impact on the world.

1. If there is NO God, then there is no Measurement or Standard for morality?  Then What will define morality?

I used to believe that if there was no God there was no standard for morality.  I now believe that morality is the same as it has always been.  A man-made law.  Considering that the written code we now call the Bible has only been in existence a few thousand years and man has been in existence much longer than that I would say that what has been written was what was born out of trial and error and societal norms at the time and what had been established orally up until then.  Looking at what we call the law, Exodus and Leviticus, it is obvious to see that this isn’t some perfect moral code.  It is actually quite similar to other written codes at that time and is hardly just.  In looking at it’s treatment of women, children and slaves(it condones it) it becomes obvious that this is nothing more than man’s attempt to maintain some sort of order rather than chaos.  Societal practices always have and always will be the standard for morality.

2. If there is NO God, then there is NO meaning or purpose to Life.  So without a God, does life have purpose or meaning?  Without God, does the Atheist have purpose?

I suppose many a man has gone down the nihilist path.  Life has whatever meaning or purpose we assign to it.  I would submit that it has greater meaning and purpose than if we have a forever to enjoy it.  What we have is the here and now.  That should cause us to take pleasure in the little things, the love we enjoy, the children we have, in a sunset or a sunrise, in nature.  It should cause us to develop a live ’til we die mentality.  Not one of excess and overindulgence, but one of appreciation of life and moments of happiness.  We should be striving to leave this place better for the next generation.

3. Are you an advocate of New Atheism and Darwinism?  If so, then the most extreme and logical form of Darwinism is Eugenics.  Would you support this?  Why or Why Not?

I really haven’t studied New Atheism or Darwinism as it relates to Eugenics.  Though I have to say I would not be a proponent of Eugenics.  If we are talking about the manipulations of genes to make specific humans genetically better, as in correcting a defect, then sure.  What I mean by that is if there is some way to alter a particular gene to prevent a known heart problem…well…that would be the same in my opinion as curing cancer and who wouldn’t want that?  But if we are talking about using Eugenics to populate the planet with some genetically superior humans then no.  We’ve already seen where that kind of thinking, that mentality, that kind of superiority complex leads.  I don’t think we want to go back there.

4. If we are ancestors/descendants of Apes, then why are there no transitional fossils or species to support this theory?

We are not ancestors/descendants of Apes.  We have common genes and we have common ancestors, but I’m not aware that we are directly descendant from Apes.  As for transitional fossils there actually are a few.  A quick google search will reveal this and the History channel has done a pretty good job with From Ape to Man.  You kind of have sift through all the opinion stuff but they do present actual transitional fossils pretty well and they show the ones that have been discovered to be a hoax.  They explain in some detail how it was determined that these are hoaxes and what criteria is used to determine which ones are not.

5. Do you believe in Human Nature?  It is Human Nature to believe in God, if so, why do you go against human nature and not believe in God?

We are humans.  We have a nature.  I believe that nature to be unique to the individual.  I do not believe it is human nature to believe in a God.  There are a number of tribes which are Atheist, not because they’ve gone against their nature, but because they’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.  They have no reason to believe there is a god and no one has yet told them there is.  When someone tries to tell them this they scoff at the idea because of their own life experience.

6. Can ‘Something come from Nothing’?  Doesn’t that violate The First Law of Thermodynamics?

That question implies that there ever was nothing.  We only make that assumption because the Bible says…in the beginning.  There was a beginning of time/record keeping, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there was nothing before that.  We simply don’t know the answer to that.  It would be impossible to know if there was a violation of The First Law of Thermodynamics.  My inclination is to say no, there was no violation of a natural law.  Either our understanding of that law is flawed or our understanding is incomplete or inadequate to even answer the question.

7. It seems that a society of Atheist are immoral and self-destructing.  Why would anyone want a Godless Society, just look at our examples: North Korea, Maoist China, Stalin, & Pot Pol?

We also have the Crusades, God-ordained slavery, murder, genocide and much more.  It seems to me that so-called godly societies can commit some of the worst atrocities against mankind.  Why would we want to establish a God-filled society?  Is it really any better?  No.  The problem is that humans are humans.  Good and bad.  Some use god as an excuse to carry out their evil deeds and some godless are the most upright, moral people on the planet.  I can’t see where belief in a god makes much of a difference.  These so-called Godless societies still use fear and brainwashing to control their masses.  Critical thinking skills are necessary whether god is or not.

8. If you were to die, and you were before God.  And he was getting ready to pass judgement on you,  What would be your reaction or thoughts?  What plea would you give him so he does not judge you harshly?

I would appeal to his rational nature.  I would remind him that if he so desired he could have made himself known to me.  The fact that I no longer believed in him wasn’t for a lack of seeking.  I would also appeal so his sense of reason.  If all it takes is a mental ascent to a particular belief any old monkey could do that.  Wouldn’t that make his grace cheap?

9. What would convince you atheism is wrong?  And that Christianity is Right?

I’m not sure at this point.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  So far we have a lot of claims of virgin births, and resurrections but nothing more than conjecture to back it up.  There are a lot of people who “feel” that God is real and just “know in their hearts” that Jesus was raised from the dead.  Some physical, hard evidence would be nice.  Some sort of personal, verifiable, experience.

I’ve had all those “feelings” but have come to realize that isn’t a very reliable indicator of reality.  I “just knew in my heart” that Jesus had risen from the dead but the Bible itself says that the heart is deceptive above all else.  All of this is so subjective.  I’d need some objective proof of the existence, not just of a man named Jesus, but that the legends about him are true.

10. Why are you an Atheist?  Why do you NOT believe in God?  Why do you reject God?  (You can be as detailed as you want.)

Well, it all started with an innocent question from a person I was witnessing to.  They asked if I could provide some corroborating evidence from an extra-Biblical source for my claims.  “Piece of cake”, I thought.  Except that when I looked for the evidence what I found astounded me.  What was available wasn’t reliable.  These were sources that had been used to convince me.  But no one told me they were questionable, at best. Josephus turned out not to be such a reliable source.  That, in turn, caused me to dig further.  I began to research the origins of the canonized scripture and the reasons other apocryphal works were excluded.  What I found horrified me.  It horrified me to find out that the line I’d been fed by the church about the Holy Spirit’s perfect preservation of God’s word was just that.  A line.  I’d bitten hook, line and sinker.  The more I stepped back and looked through skeptical eyes the more I came to realize how flawed and wholly unbelievable the whole thing is.  It all crumbled like a house of cards.

As for rejecting god.  I simply see no evidence that there is one.  No god has revealed himself or made himself known to me in any reliable, discernible manner.  Once the Christian God crumbled right before my very eyes I saw now reason to believe in any other.  Is there any credible evidence one exists?


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God Made Dirt

Let’s lighten things up a bit.  Some things are very puzzling.  Real conundrums.  Recently I participated in(mostly listened to) this conversation with GoodFriend and her daughter.  We went out to dinner and GoodFriend’s daughter had been camping at a music festival and was telling us about it.  The following ensued:

GF:  Camping’s not my thing.  When and how did you take a bath?

D:  It’s not that bad.  I just took a bath when I got home.  Y’know that saying, God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt.

Me:  (laughing) What? No, I’ve never in my life heard that.

GF:  I’ve never heard that either.  What does that even mean?

D:  You know! Kids in school said it all the time.  If someone was getting picked on about BO they would say it.  God made dirt so it can’t be bad.  Dirt never hurt anything.  So even if they never took another bath it wouldn’t hurt.  That’s as old as dirt.  How can you not have heard that?

GF:  Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

D:  When the kid would say that I’d just say, “God made cancer too.  Do ya want some of that?”

GF:  God didn’t make cancer.

D:  Sure he did.

Me: Well if he made everything else…

GF:  God didn’t make cancer.

Me:  How’d it get here?

GF:  It’s consequences.

Me:  How come good people get it?

GF:  Because we live in a fallen world.

D:  Cancer is mutated cells.

Me:  So they evolved?

D:  Well, yeah.

GF: No, cancer is consequences of living in a fallen world.

Me: Lemme make sure I understand this.  So God made all the good stuff, and if it isn’t good it’s consequences.  But God didn’t make the consequences.  The consequences evolved.

GF:  I guess.

I found this conversation puzzling.  Now, lest you think I’m poking fun at GoodFriend, I am.  But I’m poking fun at myself, too.  I used to rationalize the bad stuff in exactly the same way.  In fact, I’m sure I’ve heard some preaching to this effect.  They’d never call what they are saying about diseases evolution, but that’s exactly what they’re describing.  Why didn’t I see that before?

 


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A Pair O’ Ducks

Cute, ain't they?

Doubting your faith is a curious thing.  The farther I go the curiouser it gets.  Here are just some of the conclusions I’ve come to:

Jesus is a historical figure.  He was a real man who walked the earth, got his feet dirty, lived and died just like everyone else.

The virgin birth and the resurrection are quite unlikely.  For all of apologetics’ “most likely” scenarios, these two are not it.  I suppose if there was a God who could speak the earth and all of it’s wonders and inhabitants into being, He could make those things happen. Which brings me to :

I don’t believe that a God spoke the earth and all of it’s wonders and inhabitants into being.  He didn’t paint the sunsets or draw the stars in the heavens.

God didn’t part the Red Sea or cause a global flood or send plagues on the Egyptians.

The Bible contains some historically accurate information, but is not historically accurate, nor is it inerrant, nor is it a sacred, holy text.  It provides some valuable moral insights, but no more so than any other religious text or even a Disney film for that matter.  The Golden Rule isn’t exactly a watershed moral movement.

Even having come to those conclusions, and though I am currently unchurched, I still feel sad when I think about the prospect of never going to church again.  Not only that I feel a bit melancholy when I think about not teaching the children I don’t yet have about the love of Jesus, or not taking them to Sunday School, or not having them attend Vacation Bible School.

Kind of a weird pair o’ ducks, eh?