Light a Candle for the Atheist
A godless perspective of the World
Daniel Boone Savage
“Think for yourself, take responsibility for yourself, do not be a disciple, do not abdicate your mind and put it under the feet of someone else’s ideology.” (Anthony Grayling)
Religion: a wretched excursion into a world of illusion and ignorance. (DBS)
For three beautiful godless persons
George, Corli meisie and Trixtraas Skelmraas
A Short Introduction 6
Part 1: Rational Thinking and Critical Analysis Reject Religion 8
1: Religion 8
What is religion?
How did religion originate?
The numerous types of religion 9
Why do people believe in a god? 10
The tragic of religion 11
2: Science enters the world scene 12
3: Atheism 14
The origin of atheism
Why do people reject the existence of the Christian God? 15
4: Science revisited 16
The evidence of evolution
The evidence of an old Earth 19
Noah’s ark 20
More “just so stories” from the Bible 21
Part 2: Understanding what it means to be an atheist 24
5: What does it mean to be an atheist?
6: Tactics used by the religiose to attack atheists 25
Disproving science by the biblical creationists 26
The religiose playing the morality card 31
Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history 35
Scientific creationists claim science and religion are compatible 37
Why do scientific creationists continue to believe in their god irrespective of scientific evidence to the contrary? 42
Scientific creationists keep the new atheists out of the “science – religion compatibility debate” 45
7: Religion is a virus of the mind 46
Why religion is dangerous to young minds (1) 47
Why religion is dangerous to young minds (2) 48
8: Liars for Jesus 50
Part 3: Atheism is an honourable worldview 54
9: The beauty of being an atheist 54
10: The responsibility of the atheist 56
11: The continuing debate over science and religion 56
The Tennessee monkey trial 56
A brave young woman takes on the state of Arkansas 57
“Creation science” sticks out its ugly head 58
Intelligent Design and “creation science” change horses in midstream 58
Kitzmiller versus Dover area school district 59
12: The accommodationists are not our friends 61
13: Don’t be intimidated by the religiose 64
Their claim of having high moral standards 65
Their claim of truth and virtuous messages of the Bible 66
They don’t need science to explain Life to them 67
14: Questions to ask the religiose 68
Show us your god 68
Why is your god so cruel? 68
Why are there so many Christian denominations? 70
Who created your god? 71
Are you debunking science because it points to your religion’s fallacy? 71
Ask the questions, Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher asked 71
You claim you have high moral standards. Why do you spread lies to promote your religion and your god? 72
15: Analysing religion makes one proud to be an atheist 72
Before we start, below is a cartoon depicting God and Santa.
A Short Introduction
People are put in little boxes as a result of the colour of their skin, the neighbourhood they live in, their nationality, and their religious belief, or lack thereof. The most damning criticism dished out is to those of us who have no religious belief, in other words to us atheists. In many societies an atheist is akin to someone who has contracted leprosy.
What is an atheist, and why do atheists incur religious communities’ wrath?
An atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of any god or gods. It is as simple as that. We are not Satanists for the simple reason we do not believe Satan exists. We are not less moral than people of faith (we’ll come to this later), and we are as good (or bad) fathers and mothers and citizens as the next person. But there have of late been atheists who openly and unashamedly questioned religion and its delusional doctrines. These people have been branded by the name, New Atheists, or Gnu Atheists.
Why are atheists condemned and loathed by communities at large? This writing is an attempt (a) to show how rational thinking and critical analysis leave not much room for the belief in any deity (Part 1), (b) to understand what it means to be an atheist, and to analyse the irrational attacks on us as human beings by the religiose (Part 2), and (c) to show that atheism is an honourable worldview of which one could be proud of (Part 3).
Only the Christian religion is discussed in this write-up, and only two broad types of religious groups are identified for this discussion. First, the biblical creationists, who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible; one belief is that the Universe and the Earth were created by the Christian God 6 000 years ago. Second, the scientific creationists, who believe in the findings of science but that the Christian God’s hand was behind the creation of the Universe 13.7 billion years ago, and the age of the Earth is 4.5 billion years. The two groups together are referred to as the religiose, since they both worship the Christian God.
A group called accommodationists also needs to be defined. They are atheists who try their utmost not to criticize or upset the religiose; one of their credos is attempting to point out that science and religion are compatible. (They fail, of course, but more about this under Part 3, page 61.)
Rational thinking and critical analysis reject religion and the belief in a god.
What is Religion?
According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary:
“Religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.”
Religion is the blind faith that a God or gods created the Universe, which includes Earth with all living species, and the belief that humankind was put above all and shall rule all the other living creatures. The human is the only creature who possesses a soul, and if one lives according to the Laws of the specific religion, this soul shall be saved after death and shall live forever. If however, one does not live according to the Laws, the soul shall be punished after death, also for eternity. It is also the belief that a person has direct contact with the God or gods through prayer, and that prayer will be answered by the gods.
How did religion originate?
Nobody knows when humankind started practising religion in one or other form. From archaeological excavations it was found that early Neolithic man (10 000 years ago and more), already had their form of ritualistic worship or traditions. We do know that the Chinese religion is older than the Mesopotamians, which is older than the Egyptians, which again is older than the Jew’s religion. Christianity is therefore a relative recent religion.
The numerous types of religion
“According to David Barrett et al, editors of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world” (see footnote 1).
Now which religion is the “right” one? Just considering the Christian religion; there is such a great deal of animosity amongst the various denominations that one never would have guessed that they all read the same Bible. (In other word, as the saying goes, “they are not singing from the same hymnbook”.) There are the Young Earth Creationists who, despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, believe Earth is only 6 000 years old. There are groups that practise infant baptism, whereas other groups reject it outright and practise adult baptism. Each denomination has its own interpretation of the Bible. Again the question; which religion is the right religion?
What about all the other religions who do not believe in the Christian god? What about Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shamanism, Judaism, Chinese folk religion, and many, many more? Are they all wrong and are just the Christians right?
Perhaps the Greeks created the best gods of all the religions. The Greek gods seem more real and there are some naughty ones amongst them, and their stories are not unlike a modern soap opera. Compared to the Christian religion where their god has to kill his own son to save humankind (whom he created in the first place and in his own image), the Greek gods seem to be a much better prospect to worship.
Why do people believe in a god?
This question has many answers. In societies where rituals started, those rituals served as a binding force making people who participated to feel accepted in the society. Rituals led to the creation of a god or gods in people’s minds, and the idea that each individual possessed a soul living in the body, was born. The creation of an afterlife followed because most people were and still are scared of death. The mere thought that the soul shall live forever in one or other paradise became opium for the masses. Unfortunately this opium became so strong, that one society would go out and kill another who dared believe in some other god. (Look at the Crusades, for just one example.)
People also believe in a god because in some societies a person is punishable by death if one is a non-believer. (Look what happened during the Spanish Inquisition and are still happening today in fundamentalist Muslim countries.)
And then also, people believe in a personal god because the indoctrination of children by grownups in insidious, or at times openly aggressive ways, restrict any child’s development of critical as well as rational thinking. This indoctrination is nothing other than child abuse. How many times have we not heard a father, a mother or a grandparent scold a child and say: “Don’t do that! God will punish you!”
The tragic of religion
The tragic of any religion getting too powerful is seen where the power is abused to satisfy personal cravings, such as sexual desire. The Roman Catholic Church clerics have abused and raped young children in its care for centuries, and very little was done in the past to punish perpetrators. (Even today, paedophilic priests are moved to the Vatican or other parishes to escape prosecution.) This terrible state of affairs continues to this day, with the child abusers being protected by the seniors of the RCC, and even by governments in counties where these abuses take place. The RCC feels it is above the scrutiny of humankind, almost as if it has a direct line to their god and is not answerable to the society in which the crimes are and were committed.
Sam Harris wrote a very good article on the RCC child abuse. (See footnote 2.) Here is an extract:
“… wherever Church teaching holds sway — leading boys and girls by the thousands to be abandoned to Church-run orphanages only to be raped and terrorized by the clergy. Here, in this ghoulish machinery set to whirling through the ages by the opposing winds of shame and sadism, we mortals can finally glimpse how strangely perfect are the ways of the Lord.”
But people continue to be religious and continue to go to church and continue to give money to the church. Why? Doris Egan wrote,
“Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be religious people.”
It boggles the mind that people can be so irrational that raping children by clerics of the church they attend, does not severe their ties with that religion and that church.
By using rational and critical thinking, the advancement of science, and seeing the abuse of power by some religiose, it was only natural that more and more people started to reject religion.
2: Science enters the world scene
“The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a candle in the Dark.”
This is the title of the excellent book by Carl Sagan, renowned astronomer and cosmologist. The demon-haunted world possessing humankind’s mind allowed the creation of all religions and superstitions. People looked around them and asked questions from Nature. Because Nature only speaks in scientific language, a language nobody understood at the time, people formulated their own answers. The only problem was that the answers were wrong.
With science entering the world stage from the 17th century, Nature started revealing its splendours to humankind. Unknown, or poorly understood natural phenomena, became clear and god-did-it answers were no longer necessary. Newton formulated the calculus, Darwin evolution, Einstein relativity, and Bohr the quantum. The god-of-the-gaps was inexorably being coloured in by scientific discoveries.
It is thus not a surprise to read that scientists form the greatest percentage of atheists in any community (see footnote 3). The language of science is too clear to allow the belief in a creator-god who created the Universe in six days, all species individually, and humankind in the image of the biblical god. But the language of science is not understood by the biblical creationists, and that is why they use the Bible as proof how the natural world works.
Science does not and cannot answer all questions about Nature. This is one reason why people still cling to a religious “explanation” of our natural world. But Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate and renowned physicist, was so right when he said that it is better not to know the answer to certain things, than to make up a good story.
“I can live with doubt and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong.
“I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things—by being lost in a mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.”
Paul Dirac, Nobel laureate in physics, was more explicit:
“If we are honest — and scientists have to be — we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination.” (See footnote 4)
The Origin of Atheism
“The spontaneous proposition that there may be no gods after all is logically as old as theism itself (and the proposition that there may be no God as old as the beginnings of monotheism or henotheism). Philosophical atheist-thought appears from the 6th or 5th century BCE, both in Europe and in Asia” (see footnote 5).
It is deductively true that before religion, in whatever form it originated, people in a society did not believe much in anything. From rituals religion was born and developed throughout the world, to the myriad forms of organised religion we see today. It must be logically true that from the very beginning of religion, there were the non-believers in any society then, as there are now.
Asking questions about the world we live in, surely, must be as ancient as Homo sapiens. When rituals became dogma – true to humankind’s nature – there were people questioning this newborn dogma. A dogma could possibly have been rules that were laid down by elders or respected warriors which later became tradition, and was almost certainly more beneficial to the rulers than for the society’s benefit. (One rule that was and still is universal – give money to the elders, or church, or leaders.)
Thus it could be said that atheism originated by the rejection of any new set of rules, or the eventual rejection of old established rules and traditions. Eventually some of these rules and traditions grew into a dogmatic belief in one or other form, and with it supernatural phenomena were created by society leaders. People who then rejected the supernatural, (most possibly asking for proof, or seeing through the self-enrichment of the leaders), were then labelled non-believers, and are today called atheists. In other words, atheism is more than a dictionary explanation of the rejection of any religion; it is a positive and powerful collection of strong beliefs and critical analyses. Atheism is as old as theism and has strong and rich foundations; it is not a recent developed outright rejection of deities. Atheism is the promotion of rational thinking and critical analysis, and it uses science to oppose irrationality. And the most prominent incarnation of irrationality is religion.
Why do people reject the existence of the Christian God?
Homo sapiens have an enquiring mind. The species developed from a cave dwelling being thousands of years ago, to modern societies with television, computers, spacecraft, and many more scientific discoveries put into practical use by engineers, which now are part of our daily lives. These scientific discoveries came about as a result of humankind trying to explain Nature, the Universe we live in. As the Universe revealed its secrets to very clever investigators, these men and women found ways to apply the forces of Nature into our modern lifestyle.
With the rapid advancement of science the past 350 years, and the discovery of more and more of Nature’s forces, there was one thing Nature did not reveal; the existence of any gods. It was a natural question to ask: “Why have we not found any gods amongst all the discoveries we made?” And with the replacement of the Inquisition’s torture and death chambers with more just judicial systems, and the advent of human rights, people started to come out of the atheists’ closet.
Then in 1859 a very important book was published: “The Origin of Species”, by Charles Darwin. Darwin explained in eloquent style how natural selection was responsible for the evolution of all the species on Earth from a common ancestor. Everything then fell into place. As decades followed the publication and scientific evidence showed Darwin was correct, more and more people turned away from the Christian church. The church was not needed anymore. There was no God. The Bible was just a book of stories; species were not created by God, and humankind was not created in His image. Every living creature on Earth evolved from a common ancestor.
The reason for the rejection of the Christian God has much more to do than just Darwin’s evolution. Critical analyses of the whole of religion as an entity have contributed to the present demise of the church. These analyses will be discussed below.
4: Science revisited
The evidence of evolution
The evidence of evolution by natural selection is overwhelming. The archaeological discoveries backed by genetic research have laid out the “evolution tree” all species form part of. Two excellent books were published in 2009 about the evidence of evolution: Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True”, and Richard Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth”. They make fascinating reading.
Now what do the biblical creationists do in this regard? They disregard the scientific evidence and publish pseudo-scientific literature unashamedly claiming the evidence for evolution is suspect based on their “scientific findings”. These publications are not done in renowned scientific magazines, but on websites like the Discovery Institute (at discovery.org). Time and again scientists point out the fallacy of these publications, but scientists are never allowed to reveal these facts on Discovery Institute’s, or other similar web sites. So the ignorant biblical creationists, who do not read any scientific literature, believe the Discovery Institute’s nonsense. The religiose even go so far as to claim that science in general, and the theory of evolution in particular, is the religion of some of the scientists who are also atheists (so-called scientism).
(Cartoon idea from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson)
The Discovery Institute and its cronies do nothing less than lying – lying for Jesus. Rational people who recognise these lying tactics by religious institutions, of which they might find themselves part of, are embarrassed. They feel embarrassed by the very institutions who claim to promote high moral values, and lying is not one of those values. It is thus not surprising that more people openly state their dissatisfaction with the biblical creationists.
The rampant human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes Aids, refuses to be controlled by the most potent antibiotics. The reason is it evolves (by the Darwinian process of natural selection) so successfully in very short periods of time, that in the process it becomes immune to specific administered drugs. This glaring proof of evolution had the effect that some biblical creationists state they believe in microevolution, but not macroevolution. (This is another example where creationists develop their own “science” to fit their biblical agenda.) Sean B Carroll (biologist) who wrote two excellent books on Evolutionary Development Biology (Evo Devo) has this to say in his book “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”:
“Evo Devo reveals that macroevolution is the product of microevolution writ large.”
This is not just his opinion. He is on the scientific forefront of evolutionary development biological research, and his research outlaid in his books supply ample proof of his statement. (Carroll’s second book is: “The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the ultimate record of evolution.”)
The religiose who believe that man was put on Earth to be superior to and rule all other creature, have no understanding of biology. Plants and animals (including humankind) evolved to fit into a prokaryotic (single cellular microbial) world, rather than the reverse.
“It is a prokaryotic world, and not only in the trivial sense that there are a lot of bacterial cells. Prokaryotic metabolism forms the fundamental ecological circuitry of life. Bacteria, not mammals, underpin the efficient and long-term functioning of the biosphere.” (Life on a Young Planet: The first three billion years of evolution on Earth; by Andrew H. Knoll.)
The evidence of an old Earth
Centuries ago clerics studying the Bible came to the conclusion that Earth was approximately 6 000 years old. As a matter of fact, in 1640, Bishop James Usher dated the creation of Earth the nightfall preceding 23 October 4 004 BC. (What absolute nonsense, even for the 1600s.) In the late 1700s and early 1800s geologists started questioning the young earth hypothesis. In 1830, geologist Charles Lyell published his book, “Principles of Geology”, which shook prevailing views of how Earth had been formed. Lyell attacked the common belief among geologists and Christians that unique catastrophes and supernatural events – such as Noah’s flood – shaped Earth’s surface. He argued that the formation of Earth’s crust took place through countless small changes occurring over vast periods of time, all according to known natural laws. Earth was much, much older than the 6 000 years claimed by Christians.
In 1862 the physicist, William Thomson, better known as Lord Kelvin, estimated the age of the Earth to be 98 million years, which he revised downwards in 1897 to 20 to 40 million years. The geologists of the day disagreed with him, and with the first radiometric dating that was done in the early 20th century, they were proved to be right when it was determined that the Earth was several billion years old.
We know today the Universe formed 13.7 billion years ago and the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Where does that leave the religiose? It leaves them in raging battles amongst the denominations, which formed as a result of the different interpretations each have of their holy book, the Bible, and the age of the Earth is one. Where does it leave the sceptic? It leaves him or her to doubt more than just the Bible’s story on the age of the Earth – what else in this book is “just another story” written by an ancient tribe of goat herders?
And such another story is Noah’s ark.
How long was Noah on the ark?
“Noah entered the ark in the 600th year of his life, on the 17th day of the 2nd month (Genesis 7:11-13). Noah left the ark on the 27th day of the 2nd month of the following year (Genesis 8:14-15). Therefore, assuming a lunar calendar of 360 days, Noah was on the ark for approximately 370 days. Noah was told to go on the ark and in 7 days it would rain. So Noah was on the ark 7 days prior to the flood adding to the 370 making it 377.” (See footnote 6)
The story of Noah and the ark has even young children asking questions:
- How was it possible to get all the animals in the world on one boat?
- Where did Noah get all the food for the animals to last for such a long period, and where did he store it?
- Where did all the water come from to cover the whole world, and after the flood where did all the water go?
This is again just another story from the Bible. Many clerics claim Noah’s story, as a matter of fact most of the book of Genesis, is an allegory; in other words stories that are not factually true but have hidden meanings. Other clerics claim the book of Genesis, actually the entire Bible, is factual. (No wonder the ongoing fight between them is so laughable – almost as if each interpreter of the Bible had a visitation from God to lay out His Word’s meaning just to that specific individual.)
More “just so stories” from the Bible
There are numerous Bible stories that are questioned by critical and rational thinking. Below are just a few of them:
- The parting of the Dead Sea waters by Moses.
- The fall of the walls of Jericho due to the blowing of ram horns.
- Elijah’s ascension to heaven in a chariot of fire.
- The virgin birth.
- Jesus raises Lazarus who has been dead for four days.
- The resurrection of Jesus.
- The Ascension of Jesus.
- But my favourite “story” from the Bible is where Joshua made the Sun stand still.
“Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.” (Joshua 10: 12-13)
It must be fair to realise that Joshua thought he had stopped the Sun moving (everybody then thought the Sun revolved around the Earth), but he actually had stopped the Earth spinning on its axis. If the Earth had stopped spinning, the atmosphere would then still have been in motion. Winds at speeds of over 1500 kilometres per hour would have put a quick stop to Joshua and the Israelites fighting the Amorites. (Not to mention the waters of the oceans overflowing the coastlines of continents in mighty tidal waves and tsunamis travelling hundreds of kilometres per hour.)
What absolute nonsense the biblical creationists believe in! And to think they teach young children this nonsense. Religion is a virus of the mind (see point 7, below), and it is very difficult for scientific evidence and rational thinking to kill this virus.
Miracles occurred in the Bible stories aplenty. Why don’t we see any miracles today? A natural conclusion one comes to, is that the Bible is a book full of nice (and some not so nice) stories.
The final conclusion is that one cannot trust the Bible, and therefore one cannot trust the Christian religion. And if you reject the god of the Bible, you become an agnostic and an atheist. The natural evolution of human religious thinking, beginning with the Christian belief and ending in the rejection thereof in its totality, was inevitable.
“All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince any reasonable person that the bible is simply and purely of human invention – of barbarian invention – is to read it. Read it as you would any other book; think of it as you would of any other; get the bandage of reverence from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear; push from the throne of your brain the cowled form of superstition then read the holy bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment, supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness and purity, to be the author of such ignorance and of such atrocity.” (Robert G Ingersoll)
Understanding what it means to be an atheist, analysing the irrational thinking and attacks on us as human beings by the religiose, and the danger of religion on young children’s minds
5: What does it mean to be an atheist?
As per the atheist definition in the introduction above, an atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of any god or gods. It is as simple as that. We do not believe that there are gods who predetermine or determine our lives and destinies. We do not believe that we can talk to any god through prayer. We do not believe in an afterlife, where those of us who obey the gods’ laws, will happily live forever, while those of us who do not obey their laws will be punished for eternity. We do not believe that there is a Christian god who created the Universe in 6 days, 6 000 years ago.
And for these beliefs we are castigated and loathed, ridiculed and rejected by many communities. We are called all kind of names and are prevented from holding public office in many countries. Our children are bullied and at times forced to participate in religious activities irrespective of their outright rejection of religion. If this was not bad enough, the biblical creationists use downright underhanded tactics to spread lies and misinformation about science to prove the atheist wrong. (As if science has anything to say about religion.) They also use irrational arguments in an attempt to show atheism leads to amorality, murder, and even to genocide and other atrocities.
It is never nice to be misunderstood and then being continually criticised, irrespective of attempts to clear up the misunderstanding. Almost no effort is ever made by the religiose to understand exactly what it means to be an atheist, and to realise that we are just as moral (or amoral) as they are. It is thus no wonder that the atheist has, for centuries, lived in a closet. Understanding what it means to be an atheist is not difficult. The difficult part comes when you have to defend your point of view against the irrational attacks on atheism, and to expose the pseudoscientific and philosophical arguments used by the religiose to prove the existence of, especially, the Christian god.
What arguments do the religiose use to attack atheism? We look at them below.
6: Tactics used by the religiose to attack atheists
The religiose are so confused that their revered god’s very existence is rejected by people who are intelligent, have normal family lives, and who can hold their own in any life situation, that the former must find a reason for this (to them), very strange phenomenon. And it is thus not surprising that all sorts of irrational nonsense and, at times, downright lies must be concocted to attribute to the cause of atheists’ worldview. The simple question, “show me your god”, atheists ask is answered by rhetorical quotes from the Bible. The suggestion that the Bible is just a book, written by humans and the stories it contains are factually very wrong, is met with near hysteria.
The very source, for most people, in the ultimate rejection of a god, namely science, thereby becomes the main weapon in the attack on atheists by biblical creationists. (The scientific creationists use other tactics, which we’ll come to later.) It is important to reiterate that science describes Nature. The tremendous amount of scientific research lifted the mist of ignorance, just as the sun clears the mist in the valleys with its early morning rays. But because science started to contradict scripture, science and scientists were evil. Galileo Galilei was put under house arrest for the rest of his life, and Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake, just to mention two instances where the Church opposed science. The Church correctly perceived a fundamental conflict between what the sciences were revealing and what their religion was teaching. And this correct perception is still held by many religious people today. So science, the messenger of the bad news, must be killed.
The attack on science is not done by everyone in the religious community; only the biblical creationists who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible are on the anti-science crusade. The scientific creationists accept the findings of science, and claim that religion and science are compatible. (This we will discuss below; see page 36.)
Disproving science by the biblical creationists
The theory of evolution is “just a theory” and is a myth
This is a very common rhetorical argument uttered by the biblical creationists. No matter how well, or how often it is explained what the meaning of “a scientific theory” comprises, the creationists are short of comprehension and continue with this line of attack.
What is a scientific theory?
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
“A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than “just a theory.” It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.”
And according to the United States National Academy of Sciences,
“Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena.”
From these two very similar definitions (as it should be), it is clear that the scientist and the layman have two very different understandings of the meaning of a scientific theory. The theory of evolution is a well tested and proven phenomenon, describing the evolution of all species from a common ancestor.
How is the theory of evolution proven correct?
The theory of evolution is written in the fossils, and it is written in the DNA. Numerous transitional forms where one species developed into another have been found by palaeontologists. As for DNA, the triplet sequence of DNA that codes for the amino acids of proteins is virtually identical across all species. The correspondence between the DNA code and the amino acid is nearly identical across animals, plants, and bacteria. This is akin to finding a recently published book where the first sentence reads: “I saw in a dream the slaying of the Dragon Armageddon.” When you also read an ancient script, say 2 000 years old, and the first sentence is identical to the new book’s sentence, you will not be wrong in deducting that the author of the new book got his idea from the ancient one. Studying the DNA of single celled organisms shows clearly Homo sapiens carry in part, identical genes to that of an organism. It is thus not too difficult to deduct that our long-time-back ancestor was a similar single celled creature (see footnote 7).
The theory of evolution makes predictions and these predictions have all been verified through observation and experimentation. Not a single prediction that has been made has been proven wrong. Three very good science books that have been written recently on these subjects are shown in footnote 8.
How do biblical creationists attempt to discredit evolution?
Many books have been written in an attempt to prove evolution wrong. And in every instance, scientists have responded with scientific facts to show how, and where, these attempts failed. A very good website to see all the failed attempts (and much more about evolution), can be found at talkorigens.org (see footnote 9).
The second law of thermodynamics prevents the evolutionary process
The second law of thermodynamics states:
It is impossible for any system to undergo a process in which it absorbs heat from a reservoir at a single temperature and converts the heat completely into mechanical work, with the system ending in the same state it began. In other words, perpetual motion is not possible.
Another way to describe the law is to say the entropy of a closed system cannot decrease. (Entropy is a quantitative measure of disorder in a system.) This means in a closed system more disorder will eventually result. This is true – the Universe is running down as a whole. Yet another way to express the law in laymen terms is to say that it is not possible for heat to flow from a cold environment to a hot environment, unless work is done on the system.
The biblical creationists’ argument that the second law of thermodynamics prevents the process of evolution is a glaring indication of their inability to grasp very simple scientific theories, or laws.
First of all, the Earth is not a closed system. As an analogy, we can consider a refrigerator in a room. The refrigerator seems to form ice by withdrawing heat from the water, and thus heat flows from a cooler body (the icebox) to a warmer body (the room). But the explanation is simple – the refrigerator uses electrical energy obtained from a source outside the fridge and room. This energy is used to run a compressor and ultimately you have ice. Thus it is evident that the refrigerator is not a closed system – it has a source of energy outside the room. In order to make the fridge a closed system, just switch off the energy source. What happens? The heat now flows from the room into the fridge and the ice melts.
The Earth is also not a closed system in that the Sun’s energy is converted directly, or indirectly, by organisms to live, reproduce, and to evolve. Thus it is clear that work is done on the refrigerator to produce ice, and work is done on the Earth (by the Sun) in order for life to be possible, and to evolve. If the Sun disappears tomorrow, life and evolution will certainly come to an end because Earth is now a closed system. Talkorigins.org explains this misconception very well on their website (see footnote 10).
This is one of the many basic science topics biblical creationists do not understand, or perhaps do not want to understand. They are always ready to use the products of science – electricity, the motorcar, modern medicine and the like, but as soon as science seems to contradict their book of fables, out go any rational thinking and critical analysis. Was it not for the danger of the delusional mental makeup of the fundies, it would be a laughing matter. But these people are dangerous; dangerous to any community, but especially dangerous to young children who must develop rationality and critical thinking.
That is why they will do their utmost to get the teaching of evolution banned in the biology class – the mere idea that we and the chimps have a common ancestor, leaves them in a state of stupor.
Scientists are wrong; the Earth is only 6 000 years old.
This claim by biblical creationists borders on the brink of lunacy. But why do scientists claim the Earth is 4.5 billion years old?
Radiometric dating techniques show the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. This technique is explained very well in talkorigins.org (see footnote 11). This article also describes the fallacy of the pseudo-scientific arguments of the biblical creationists attempting to “prove” the scientific findings wrong. (Scroll down in the article to “Common Young-Earth ‘Dating Methods’”.)
Actually, the basis of any biblical creationists’ “science” is this: what does the Bible say? And they will base all their “scientific findings” according the “Word of our Lord.” How pathetic!
It is only fair to point out that the scientific creationists accept scientific findings and accept the Earth’s age of 4.5 billion years. A paper describing radiometric dating techniques is shown in footnote 12; “Radiometric Dating; A Christian Perspective”.
The religiose playing the morality card
“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” (Steven Weinberg, renowned physicist and Nobel laureate, quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999)
(Cartoon idea from Jesus and Mo; jesusandmo.net)
The religiose who claim atheists cannot have high moral standards because they do not believe in a god – mostly the Christian god – have not much to crow about. Look at the wars that have been fought in the name of their religion: the Crusades during the 11th through 13th centuries, the 16th century French Wars on Religion between Catholics and Protestants, the Thirty Years’ War, (1618-1648) again Catholics against Protestants, the Jewish-Arab religious conflicts, the Irish conflicts, to name but a few.
No war has been fought just for the cause of atheism.
George Tamarin, an Israeli psychologist, conducted a study on genocide with Israeli children between the ages of eight and fourteen (see footnote 13 for the full study). Basically, the study tested the children’s response to genocide as described in the Bible, to genocide where the religious connotation was removed. The results showed the horrific tendency where religious people have no problem condemning genocide committed by Hitler, or Stalin, but they will bend over backwards to try to justify genocide in the Bible. The difference between children condemning and condoning genocide, was caused by nothing other than religion.
Where are the religiose high moral standards now?
The reason young people cannot distinguish between the facts that biblical and political genocide are both hideous crimes, no matter how you look at it, is as a result of the crime committed by grownups polluting their children’s minds. Young people are not taught how to develop critical thinking and analysis, but are indoctrinated into the hideous principles of religion.
“The smug Christian apologist William Lane Craig said genocide is alright, so long as God commands it, for the simple reason that God is the source of all value, and if God commands genocide then, not only is it okay, it is an obligation!” (Eric MacDonald; choiceindying.com) Greta Christina also took Craig to task for his utterly incomprehensible stance defending genocide:
“It’s funny. One of the most common pieces of bigotry aimed at atheism is that it doesn’t provide any basis for morality. It’s widely assumed that without religion — without moral teachings from religious traditions, and without fear of eternal punishment and desire for eternal reward — people would behave entirely selfishly, with no concern for others. And atheists are commonly accused of moral relativism: of thinking that there are no fundamental moral principles, and that all morality can be adapted to suit the needs of the moment.
“But it isn’t atheists who are saying, “Well, sure, genocide seems wrong… but under some circumstances, it actually makes a certain amount of sense.” It isn’t atheists who are saying, “Well, sure, infanticide seems wrong… but looked at in a certain light, it really isn’t all that bad.” It isn’t atheists who are prioritizing an attachment to an ancient ideology over the clearest moral principles one can imagine: the principle that entire races ought not to be systematically exterminated, and the principle that children ought not to be slaughtered.
“Human beings have intrinsic compassion. We have a sense of justice. We have feelings of revulsion and rage when we see others harmed. We have a desire to help create a liveable world. We have a willingness to make personal sacrifices — sometimes great sacrifices — to help others in need. And contrary to what Craig and many other Christians think, these moral emotions don’t derive from the Bible, and don’t require belief in God. They’re taught by virtually every religion and every society, and atheists feel them every bit as much as believers. Humans are a social species, and these emotions and principles evolved because they help members of a social species survive and reproduce. (Other social species seem to have some or all of these moral emotions as well.)
“But our compassion and justice, our altruism and moral revulsion, can be twisted. They can be stunted. They can be denied, ignored, shoved to the back burner, rationalized away. They can be contorted to the point where we’re saying that black is white, war is peace, and the most blatant evil is actually goodness if you squint your eyes just right. They can be contorted to the point where we’re saying that genocide is okay because everyone gets what they deserve in the afterlife, and that infanticide is morally necessary to teach a lesson about the evils of murdering children.
“And religion is Exhibit A in how this can happen.” (Greta Christina – see footnote 29)
Atheism rejects the notion of gods, but there is no explanation of what atheism is instead. Moral questions are not covered by atheism. Christianity as a “movement” has shared interests, amongst them gatherings and prayer meetings and do whatever religious people do; atheism as a “movement” has no such shared interests. For instance, you do not create an organization with the goal of not collecting antiques.
So where do our morals come from? I believe on the long evolutionary road Homo sapiens travelled, the emergence of morality was inevitable. The brain developed into a sentient organ with a capacity to feel pleasure as well as pain, an organ with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, or good and bad behaviour; behaviour that was good for the tribe. Thus, evolution endowed Homo sapiens with a moral sense. (Evolution again! How the religiose hate the claim that human nature could have been sculpted by evolution.)
Arthur C Clarke, the author of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, had a different view of the claim that morality developed as a result of religion:
“One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion.”
To end this topic, below is an excellent piece by Sam Harris (see footnote 11).
“If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.
“We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.”
Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history
Again, below, let us hear what Sam Harris had to say about this (see footnote 14).
“People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.”
Stalin and Pol Pot were certainly atheists to the core. But as Sam Harris points out above, political dogma out of control caused the evil deeds they did. With Hitler it is more difficult. In “Mein Kampf” he wrote:
“Hence today I believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
But Hitler also said:
“The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.”
Suffice to say, people can be evil whether they are religious or atheists. Atheism does not cause a person to be evil. It is just as absurd to say Darwinism caused Hitler’s acts of genocide. Hitler’s genocide was caused to some extent by Social Darwinism and the Nazi interpretation of eugenics.
Social Darwinism is defined as: “The application of Darwinism to the study of human society, specifically a theory in sociology that individuals or groups achieve advantage over others as the result of genetic or biological superiority.” (From Answers.com)
Nazi eugenics is defined as the study and practice of selective breeding applied to humans, with the aim of improving the species.
Neither Social Darwinism nor eugenics as seen by the Nazis, were advocated by Charles Darwin in his “Origin of Species” or later works. It is just a cheap shot by the biblical creationists at atheists and the theory of evolution.
It is astounding to see to what lengths biblical creationists will go to discredit the beautiful theory of evolution. Scientists keep on pointing out the fallacious arguments and pseudo-science articles of these cretins, but they keep repeating the same nonsense. One of the reasons it is happening, I suspect, is this: the biblical creationists do not readily read scientific literature. So they would not be aware of all the refutations of “creation science” at the hand of true scientists. So the leaders of the biblical creationism brigade persist with their tactics, and many atheists have not the scientific answers readily available when they are confronted with the lies and pseudo-science of the creationists. I hope this short write-up will help to counter the religiose.
Scientific creationists claim science and religion are compatible
It is important to clarify one thing and it is this: the incompatibility between science and religion does not mean that a person cannot be religious and be a good scientist. There are many religious people who are also good scientists.
Understanding what religion is therefore is important. Religion was defined above under “what is religion?” To be able to debate the religion-science compatibility issue, one must also define science.
Science is the method that describes the natural world we live in; in other words the description of Nature and all its splendours. Science is based on the Scientific Method, and this method comprises four basis steps: 1. observation, 2. postulation, 3. experimentation, and 4. verification. Let us analyse these four steps.
Observation: the scientist (or anybody, for that matter) looks around and observes a certain phenomenon of Nature; for example, when you throw a stone in the air, it ultimately falls back to the ground.
Postulation: the observer notices that there is a “force” that determines the trajectory of the stone and after many attempts, postulates a formula that describes all such trajectories.
Experimentation: the observer tests the newly postulated formula against many “stone throws’; stones of different shapes and sizes and masses. This brings us to the last step.
Verification: the observer tests the postulation by experimenting under many different conditions, and if the formula “holds” for all these conditions, the postulation is accepted to be a correct description of this phenomenon and becomes known as a “scientific theory”. If it is found that the formula does not “hold” under all conditions, it is rejected outright, or modified and tested again and again.
It is also important to realise that the “scientific method” is an ongoing process; it never stops. Newton’s theory of gravity is used to put a satellite into space, but Einstein found that Newton was only correct at low speeds and low gravitational forces. The Global Positioning System (GPS) works only when Einstein’s theories are used; using Newton the GPS would fail within a day.
A scientific theory can be rejected hundreds of years after its first formulation and acceptance. Thomas Huxley said:
“Science is organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact.”
The successful description of the precession of the planet Mercury’s perihelion by Einstein’s theory of general relativity is one “ugly fact” that killed Newton’s theory of gravity. Richard Feynman said:
“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong”
It is thus possible to adjudicate between the truths of two scientific theories, because Nature is the adjudicator and its correct description is the ultimate scientific truth.
Compared to the scientific method, let us take a look at the Christian religion. Two examples are given below.
God will answer your prayers, is believed. This claim can be tested scientifically. Studies of intercessory prayer – when the sick do not know whether they are being prayed for – have not shown the slightest evidence that it works. Faith-based healing has been shown to fail time and again. This “ugly fact” does not deter the religiose to keep praying to their god.
It is believed Christ had a virgin birth and after his death was resurrected. Biological research shows the impossibility of human females reproducing asexually, or of anyone reawakening three days after death. These two “ugly facts” are rejected by the religiose; science must be wrong!
This is the crux where science and religion differ; religious beliefs are immune to “ugly facts”. What is more, they are maintained in the face of “ugly facts”, such as the impotence of prayer, or the inability to “show my God for all to see”. Finally, there is no way to adjudicate between conflicting religious explanations, as can be done between competing scientific explanations.
To quote Albert Camus, Nobel laureate philosopher:
“Prophecy functions on a very long-term basis and has, as one of its properties, a characteristic which is the very source of strength of all religions: the impossibility of proof.” (The Rebel)
Stephen Hawking, renowned physicist, had this to say about the compatibility of science and religion:
“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”
Jerry Coyne (biologist) commented on Hawking’s comparison of science and religion: (Coyne’s blog is: whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
“He’s right, of course. The last, terse sentence sums up in six words the entire history of science and faith. Hawking, wilfully misunderstood by those desperate to harmonize science with faith, recognizes their profound incompatibility.
“It’s time to admit that those who still claim that religion and science are compatible–ignoring their fundamental and blatantly obvious differences in philosophy, methodology, and success at understanding the universe–are intellectually dishonest.”
It is thus very evident that science and religion are totally incompatible. But scientists, who point out these differences between science and religion, and thus the incompatibility between them, are labelled “the aggressive New Atheists”. Somehow the scientific creationists want scientists to be “nice” to the religiose, and to their delusional worldview based on a fictitious ghost in the sky.
Since there are scientists who are also religious, where does it leave the compatibility argument of the religiose? Religion and science can be compatible in the sense that both can be simultaneously functional in the human mind. But they clash because they analyse data in disparate ways. A scientist, who is also religious, exists in a state of “cognitive dissonance”, so aptly said by Coyne. There can be no harmony between science and religion in this person’s mind, until the religion is replaced by deism (see below), or the science is polluted with unproven spiritual claims. And neither option is acceptable; the first one to the religiose, and the second one to the true scientist.
Deism: The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation. (From Answers.org)
(Cartoon idea from Jesus and Mo; jesusandmo.net)
Why do scientific creationists continue to believe in their god irrespective of scientific evidence to the contrary?
The attempt to answer this question has been undertaken by many atheists, and especially atheist scientists. I think the best answer I have read to date is from a scientist who is a devoted Christian:
“As a purely practical matter, I have compelling reasons to believe in God. My parents are deeply committed Christians and would be devastated, were I to reject my faith. My wife and children believe in God, and we attend church together regularly. Most of my friends are believers. I have a job I love at a Christian college that would be forced to dismiss me if I were to reject the faith that underpins the mission of the college. Abandoning belief in God would be disruptive, sending my life completely off the rails.” (Karl Giberson)
This excerpt is from an article by Jerry Coyne, in “The New Republic”. Coyne continues:
“This touching confession reveals the sad irrationality of the whole enterprise–the demoralizing conflict between a personal need to believe and a desperation to show that this primal need is perfectly compatible with science.
“It would appear, then, that one cannot be coherently religious and scientific at the same time. That alleged synthesis requires that with one part of your brain you accept only those things that are tested and supported by agreed-upon evidence, logic, and reason, while with the other part of your brain you accept things that are unsupportable or even falsified. In other words, the price of philosophical harmony is cognitive dissonance. Accepting both science and conventional faith leaves you with a double standard: rational on the origin of blood clotting, irrational on the Resurrection; rational on dinosaurs, irrational on virgin births. Without good cause, Giberson and Miller pick and choose what they believe. At least the young-earth creationists are consistent, for they embrace supernatural causation across the board. With his usual flair, the physicist Richard Feynman characterized this difference: “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” With religion, there is just no way to know if you are fooling yourself.” (See footnote 15)
“Accepting both science and conventional faith leaves you with a double standard”; and this double standard is around for any rational person to see. There are forums that promote this double standard vehemently, although they don’t see it as such. One such forum is biologos.org. (The forum is sponsored by the Templeton Foundation who spends millions of dollars per year in an attempt to promote the idea that science and religion are compatible.) Their mission statement is:
“The BioLogos Foundation explores, promotes and celebrates the integration of science and the Christian faith.”
It is a misnomer because they are celebrating a phantom created in their heads; science and the Christian faith are not integrated at all, and the fight continues. There is also no end to the fight among the religiose on how to interpret the Bible.
“I just love it when Christians fight about which parts of the Bible to take literally and which are metaphorical—as, I suppose, Christians enjoy it when atheists squabble. The difference is that atheists fight about tactics, not whether there is any evidence for the verities of scripture. The claims of one group of Christians that the others are practicing “bad faith” will make no friends—and shows why the mission of BioLogos is ultimately futile.
“And my fondest hope is that people on the fence, seeing Christians fighting about how literal the Bible really is, will realize that the whole exercise is doomed, for the Bible comes not from God but from man. That’s a good first step on the road to unbelief.” (Jerry Coyne)
On forums like BioLogos you are allowed to participate in the science – religion discussion. But if you get into topics that are too sensitive to their liking, you are warned and then banned if you don’t play according to their rules and on their playing field. (Some forum, indeed!) It is worth visiting there to see how loons get together, pat one another on the back, snigger and whine especially at the cruel insensitive new atheists. (A stark observation is that the religiose are free to attack atheists personally when they are argued into a corner, without getting banned, whereas atheists must be polite and civil at all times, or else!)
Because it is so well funded, BioLogos pays well-known accommodationists to support their mission statement with badly thought through articles. (Accommodationists are atheists who bend backwards so as not to hurt the religiose feelings. It could also be the taste of money that warps one’s arguments to become irrational.) Renowned scientists, who are atheists and who criticise the accommodationists, participated on the forum; Jerry Coyne, P Z Myers (biologist) and Sean Carroll (physicist) to name only three. But they have left the forum because arguing with loons is a waste of time and effort. If one is not willing to go through BioLogos’ mental contortions, it is better to stay away from that loony site. And there are many similar websites on the internet.
In an attempt to fit the divine foot into the scientific shoe, BioLogos uses a tyre lever, sledgehammer and blowtorch. But all attempts have failed because the shoe simply doesn’t fit. P Z Myers, in his blog, Pharyngula (scienceblogs.com/pharyngula), wrote:
“Note to BioLogos: squatting in between those on the side of reason and evidence and those worshipping superstition and myth is not a better place. It just means you’re halfway to crazy town.”
So in effect, the scientific creationists have money to support their views (or it could be that money recruits scientists), and they ensure that the new atheists are kept out before they spoil the takings.
And thus we get to….
Scientific creationists keep the new atheists out of the “science – religion compatibility debate”
The World Science Festival was held in New York in June 2010, which included a panel on science and faith. (This discussion was sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, who else.) The panel consisted of two scientists, Francisco Ayala and Paul Davies (both Templeton prize winners), and two scholars of religion, Elaine Pagels and Thupten Jinpa. There was no one on the panel representing the new atheist viewpoint.
This is the strategy of the scientific creationists; they only allow discussion on the compatibility of science and religion on their playing fields where they make the rules. Sean Carroll has this to say about the panel:
“Nothing in principle wrong with any of [the panellists], but there is a somewhat obvious omission of a certain viewpoint: those of us who think that science and religion are not compatible. And there are a lot of us! Also, we’re right. A panel like this does a true disservice to people who are curious about these questions and could benefit from a rigorous airing of the issues, rather than a whitewash where everyone mumbles pleasantly about how we should all just get along.”
Scientific creationists and accommodationists (see point 12, page 61 below) also deplore the new atheists who point out the irrationality and lack of evidence that encompass all religions. The latter are labelled to be practising “scientism” – using science to show the ridiculous claims of the religiose. It is not difficult to see that the adjective is pejorative, more so for the fact that science has nothing to say about religion except that no gods have been found in the centuries-long search for the explanation of Nature’s forces and its workings.
It is astounding to witness the scientific creationists in action. Good scientists who completely loose the plot. The irrationality of their arguments is apparent for all to see, except for themselves and their brethren. How can clever people be so delusional? That brings us to the danger of religion.
7: Religion is a virus of the mind
There is no evidence now and there never has been evidence of any god or gods. So how does religion survive from generation to generation? Religion and religious beliefs do not spread as a result of evidence in their support, but by cultural transmission, from parents, from society, and from charismatic individuals. The insistent and continuous indoctrination of religious dogma on young children has the end-effect that puppets are cloned very similar to the parents. This indoctrination is a crime committed to young children. Critical thinking and rational arguments are not taught to children, but are smothered from a very young age. The lasting effect when not questioning religious doctrine, keep children ignorant and on track to become brain-dead grownups.
“Against logic there is no armour like ignorance.” (Laurence J Peter, US educator and writer)
(Cartoon idea from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson)
Why religion is dangerous to young minds (1)
Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist well known for his pedagogical studies, especially the education and teaching of children. He was the Director of the International Bureau of Education, and said in 1934:
“Only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.” (See footnote 16)
Piaget defined four distinct development stages in children. The second stage, between the ages of 2 and 7 is of interest in this discussion. During this stage “magical thinking predominates; children cannot conserve or use logical thinking”. Piaget called this stage the “preoperational” stage.
At this age a child will very much accept what he or she is being told by grownups. This is the stage when the undeveloped mind is being abused in the same way a family member or a cleric does when molesting a child. The young age of the child ensures there will be no criticism of the wildly incredulous claims religion brings. Religion is presented to the child as undisputable law, and threatened at a very young age with “God will punish you!”, if the laws are broken. (How on earth a child of this age must even understand the “laws”, is beyond me.)
By polluting and abusing these young minds with religious dogma, and instilling in them the idea of blind faith, are criminal acts. Religion has unleashed many evils on the world, but the greatest crime that has been and is still committed by religion, is the crime of its relentless indoctrination of young children.
This religious indoctrination has long-term effects. Some people never recover from it and remain religious; they are never able to critically argue the fallacious facts of the Bible or an unseen god-in-the-sky. Even good scientists, who have good critical thinking abilities, cannot get to put religion through the same rigor they employ in their scientific research. Their minds were polluted and abused by religious indoctrination at a young age.
How many atheists were very religious, but in the end critical analyses and rational thinking got the upper hand and they rejected their religion? How many atheists write and speak openly of the relief they felt when at long last they managed to discard the evil of religion, the evil of corrupting the mind?
Judith Hayes said the following about religion:
“I am not, however, unduly prejudiced against Christianity. Far from it, I have disdain for all religions. The evil done in the name of religion is infinitely greater than any good it may have done.” (See footnote 17)
It is almost facetious to end by quoting from the Bible (with some modification):
“Whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:3)
By indoctrinating “these little ones” with religious doctrine, causes them to stumble when they are grownups.
Why religion is dangerous to young minds (2)
A new trend has emerged in the state of Texas in the USA, and that is to change the facts of history in the school syllabus. The Texas Board of Education
“.. voted to enact new teaching standards for history and social studies that will alter which material gets included in school textbooks. It decided to drop Jefferson from a world history section devoted to great political thinkers.” (See footnote 18)
“ .. substituting figures such as Aquinas and Calvin for Jefferson, Texas Freedom Network argues, the board had chosen to embrace religious teachings over those of Jefferson, the man who coined the phrase “separation between church and state.””
Jefferson was also an atheist and where the biblical creationists are in control, atheists are the enemy. Who was Thomas Jefferson?
“Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and – for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States – one of the most influential Founding Fathers.” (See footnote 19)
So grownups in the state of Texas have decided that children do not need to learn that an atheist was “one of the most influential Founding Fathers”. What an atrocity! But it should not be a surprise that the religiose try to protect their children when you read some of Jefferson’s quotes:
“I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.”
“Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man … perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind … a mere contrivance [for the clergy] to filch wealth and power to themselves.”
The Republican majority in Texas is a threat to the education of the state’s children, and particularly a threat to the development of their critical thinking abilities. But the question to ask is this: why should rational people, who are not so indoctrinated by religion that they are delusional, have to suffer at the hand of the biblical creationists? When children are only allowed to learn the “history” approved by the biblical creationists, these people must be removed from office.
Wherever religion’s ugly head is seen, the evil deeds it commits are ever around. The raping of children by the Roman Catholic Church paedophile priests, the indoctrination of religion polluting young people’ minds, the changing of historical facts to serve the agenda of biblical creationists, the list of atrocities gets longer and longer.
8: Liars for Jesus
The biblical creationists have been known liars for Jesus since science started hammering nails in their coffin. We discussed the lies about evolution above. Pathetic attempts by the religiose in general, have been lies about renowned scientists who were, according to them, actually religious and believed in the Christian god. We’ll look at only three scientists.
A certain Lady Hope said after Darwin had died that she was at his deathbed, and heard him say he was sorry he ever wrote about evolution and recanted his atheism. Darwin’s daughter, Henrietta, had this to say after Hope’s story was revived in 1922:
“I was present at his deathbed,” she wrote in the Christian for February 23, 1922. “Lady Hope was not present during his last illness, or any illness. I believe he never even saw her, but in any case she had no influence over him in any department of thought or belief. He never recanted any of his scientific views, either then or earlier. We think the story of his conversion was fabricated in the U.S.A. . . . The whole story has no foundation whatever.” (See footnote 20)
Regardless of this refutation, the religiose continue to publish Lady Hope’s story on their websites. This is just one of the lies for Jesus.
Einstein in his quotations often referred to God. He is invariably put in the religious box, but let Einstein answer for himself:
“The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.
“For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.” (Einstein’s letter on January 3 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind; see footnote 21)
In Stephen Hawking’s bestselling book “A Brief History of Time”, he wrote:
“However, if we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.”
The religiose clung to this expression of Hawking as undeniable proof that he was religious. “The mind of God” from Hawking was quoted in many pseudo-scientific books, especially books on astronomy. They never attempted to clarify what Hawking meant with this, that it could have a metaphorical meaning.
A question to Hawking was aired 7 July 2008 on the South African TV show 50/50 (see footnote 22):
“What happens to human self-consciousness when one dies?”
“I imagine what happens to human consciousness when we die is much like turning off a computer. I don’t believe in a heaven for computers. I think the after-life is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Above are just three examples how the religiose warp facts to fit their agenda; the agenda of lying for Jesus.
In the courtroom drama in Dover, Pennsylvania, USA, where evolution and biblical creationism (under the name Intelligent Design (ID)) went to trial, Judge John Jones had this to say about the creationists:
“It is ironic that several of these individual, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID policy.”
More lies for Jesus, of course. The four lies above for Jesus are just drops in the bucket, and the religiose bucket is very big, and it is overflowing with lies.
Lies of the Church pointed out by a famous author
Dostoevsky, in his book, “The Brothers Karamazov”, pointed out the evil doings and lying of the Roman Catholic Church: the cardinal speaking in the chapter, “The Grand Inquisitor.”
“But we shall tell them [the people] that we are Thy servants and rule them in Thy name. We shall deceive them again, for we will not let Thee [Christ] come to us again. That deception will be our suffering, for we shall be forced to lie.”
The lies spread by the different religions resulted in the many religious wars that were fought through humankind’s history. The same cardinal speaking above continues:
“For the sake of common worship they’ve slain each other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one another, “Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods!””
Atheism is an honourable worldview of which one can be proud of
9: The beauty of being an atheist
The beauty of being an atheist is you cannot blame someone for your failings, nor do you thank anyone for your feeling and acts of compassion, love and reason. (Except, perhaps, blaming or thanking your bad or good genes you came by through evolution.) As Excel Munthe said in his surpassingly brilliant book, “The Story of San Michele”:
“Now and then in our perplexity we venture to put a timid question to our destiny, but we get no answers, for the stars are too far away. The sooner we realise that our fate lies in ourselves and not in the stars, so much the better for us. Happiness we can only find in ourselves…”
(Cartoon idea from xkcd.net)
That is very true. We cannot find happiness in others; if you are an unhappy person, nobody can change that except you. The religiose try to find happiness in their god, but instead of being happy, they find fault with people who do not see life as they see it, or do not worship the god they worship.
Of course there are unhappy atheists, but it is not the lack of worshipping a god that is the cause of the unhappiness. It is in them. I have noticed so often in the African, Brazilian and Indonesian jungles how people who have very little worldly goods, are inherently very happy people. And I did not notice any gods hanging around there either.
“We are allowed to watch the sun rise and set, the clouds sailing along the sky, the forests and the fields, the glorious sea, all without spending a penny. The birds sing to us for nothing, the wild flowers we may pick as we are walking along the roadside. There is no entrance fee to the starlit hall of the Night.”
“A few friends, a few books, indeed a very few, and a dog is all you need to have about you as long as you have yourself.” (Axel Munthe; “The Story of San Michele”)
The beauty of being an atheist is you can see Nature through the eyes of a scientist, or a philosopher, or an artist who created the Sistine Chapel, or a musician who wrote The Emperor, without having to refer to a ghost in the sky; you can enjoy things for what they are. You don’t need a book full of fables to tell you how to live and enjoy life and see its beauty.
“You are too young to understand it”, she said, “but sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of [another]”
“There are just some kind of men who – who’s so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” (“To Kill a Mocking Bird”, by Harper Lee)
There are many good quotations from happy atheists; here is one:
“When I finally came out of the closet and allowed myself the freedom of being an atheist, it was like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. I could read anything I wanted. Ask any questions I wanted. Challenge anything that didn’t make sense to me. And after being the equivalent of a worker ant for so long, this was heady stuff indeed! I am still exhilarated by it. A chained intellect, as demanded by religion, is a pitiful thing. A free intellect is a thing to be treasured.” (Judith Hayes)
10: The responsibility of the atheist
Being an atheist also carries a big responsibility. The worldview of the atheist is one that must be protected and cherished. Long before the advent of science, free thinkers have been under siege, and have been engaged in battle with the religiose. This battle continues today and we cannot let up, not even for a moment. It is appropriate to mention a few of these battles that were fought by brave men and women, fighting for the right to think for themselves and to bring up their children in an environment where critical thinking is protected and nurtured.
11: The continuing debate over science and religion
The Tennessee monkey trial
This is the famous trial that took place in the small town of Dayton, Tennessee in 1925. The Tennessee legislator passed a law that evolution may no longer be taught in public schools. John Scopes, a young Tennessee high school teacher, intentionally violated the law and he was charged with teaching evolution. (To do justice to this trial, I refer the reader to the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Edward J Larson, “Summer for the Gods”. An excellent movie was also made from a play of the trial, “Inherit the Wind”, with Spencer Tracey in the lead role.)
Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 which was overturned on appeal on a technicality, but the law remained in force. (In fact, the anti-evolution law would remain on Tennessee’s books until 1967 before it was repealed.) Before the end of the 1920s, similar anti-evolution laws were passed in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida.
Below follows an excerpt from the film, “Inherit the Wind”, where the defence attorney argued the threat the law had in restricting free thinking and free speech:
“Can’t you understand? That if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools? And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other, because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honour, with banners flying and with drums beating we’ll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind! “
The biblical creationists would remain in power until the 1960s.
A Brave young woman takes on the state of Arkansas
Susan Epperson, a young woman who graduated from Arkansas’ school system and then obtained her master’s degree in zoology at the University of Illinois, took on the Arkansas’ anti-evolution law because it was “in violation of the First Amendment, and tends to hinder the quest for knowledge, restrict the freedom to learn, and restrain the freedom to teach.” (See footnote 23)
The decision by the Supreme Court of the United States was that the Arkansas law was unconstitutional and had to be repealed. Justice Abe Fortas found that the law was “an attempt to blot out a particular theory from public education.” And this restriction put on a scientific theory by the state law, was nothing else than advancing a religious agenda.
It was young people like Scopes and Epperson that had the guts to take on the biblical creationists for their continued “hindering the quest for knowledge, restricting the freedom to learn, and restraining the freedom to teach.”
“Creation science” sticks out its ugly head
When the right to teach evolution in public schools started to win in courts of law across the USA, the biblical creationists invented “creation science”. They also managed to convince the state of Arkansas to pass a statute requiring equal time to teach their “science” and evolution in science classes. This statute was challenged in district court in 1982.
The judge, William Overton, handed down his decision on January 5, 1982, giving a clear, specific definition of science as a basis for ruling that “creation science” is religion and is simply not science. (See footnote 24) He found that “creation science” violated the First Amendment, that it was not science but an attempt to promote religion in public schools.
Another bloodied nose for the biblical creationists handed down by the court. .
Intelligent Design and “creation science” change horses in midstream
With “creation science” now exposed by judge Overton as religion and not science, the biblical creationists went back to the drawing board. They invented the idea of Intelligent Design (ID). The crux of their argument was that life was so complex that it could not have evolved explained by Darwin’s method of natural selection. There had to be an intelligent designer behind it all, and it does not require a genius to guess who this intelligent designer was; none other than God.
But the ID proponents were, and still are very sleazy; their tactics in promoting ID was to strip it of any mention of God and the Bible. With this approach they attempted to get their religious dogma back in the science classroom.
But they were exposed again, which we’ll see below, and walked away with more bloodied noses.
Kitzmiller versus Dover area school district
Tammy Kitzmiller with ten other parents of students in Dover, Pennsylvania, was the first direct challenge brought in the United States federal courts against a public school district that required the presentation of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution as an “explanation of the origin of life.” The plaintiffs successfully argued that intelligent design was a form of creationism, and that the school board policy thus violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. (See footnote 25)
It was a stunning victory for science and critical thinking and analyses, and an uppercut to Intelligent Design and its religious and pseudo-scientific proponents. Judge John Jones’ verdict was blunt and went for the throat of the ID proponents.
“He concluded that there was no evidence that the [school] board had a valid secular motivation. Though they claimed to be moved by a desire to improve science education and critical thinking skills, the evidence does not show that at all.” (Gordy Slack’s excellent book of the trial; “The Battle over the Meaning of Everything”)
Judge Jones took the defence apart:
“Their asserted purposes are a sham”, and “board members admittedly had no comprehension whatsoever of ID. To assert a secular purpose against this backdrop is ludicrous.” He also accused the school board members of “breathtaking inanity” and “[they] dragged its community into a legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.”
This was a terrible blow to the Intelligent Design cult. With bloodied noses and the ridicule of the press for all to see, it is difficult to see how they will recover. But, as any gardener will know, to wade out weeds is a formidable process. Just as species evolve, religion evolves to fit any culture and lifestyle. So we can expect the creationists (or whatever name they go by) to resurface again.
12: The accommodationists are not our friends
The battles that were fought against the biblical creationists have been fierce and involved many brave men and women against overwhelming numbers, if public opinion is anything to go by. One factor that stood out was the denigrating attacks by not only the biblical creationists, but also some of the scientific creationists. The religiose threaten us with burning in hell, while even some of the atheists claim our attack on religion, our insistence for freedom of speech and science education, are too aggressive. We must tone down our vociferous loathing of the biblical creationists and their pseudo-scientific agenda; this would make evolution in particular, and science in general, more acceptable for the creationists. These atheists, who try to be nice to the religiose, are called accommodationists. They are not our friends.
(Cartoon idea from Jesus and Mo; jesusandmo.net)
Why should we show respect and deference to the religiose? You can respect a person, whether religious or not, but you need not respect an opinion, an idea, or a political party. People can believe whatever they wish, but they cannot expect scientists to reaffirm their delusions. Where and when scientists oblige, or turn a blind eye to the delusions of the religiose, they are undermining the very character what science stands for.
“Theology is the art of making religious virtues out of scientific necessities.” (Jerry Coyne) And the accommodationist scientists assist them.
“It is a sad situation when atheists try to help the religiose peddle their specious version of evolution. Rather than envision the creator using natural selection as a form of mental masturbation, why can’t they just short-circuit the whole exercise and admit that there’s not a smidgen of evidence for god?
“[A]s for the mutually helpful “dialogue” between science and faith, I have yet to hear about anything that faith does for science. Science, of course, does plenty for faith: it shows that its doctrines are ridiculous.
“It’s bad enough that accommodationists dip their toes into theology by repeatedly arguing that evolution can be easily reconciled with faith, and that many denominations agree. But it’s far worse for them to try to help the faithful reconcile God and science by propping up their theodicy. Why on earth would atheists engage in such puffery? Only, I think, so they can appear “reasonable.” It’s a betrayal of their own beliefs, and a form of intellectual cowardice. After all, there are presumably reasons why these people are atheists.
“I swear, when you read this kind of stuff coming out of the mouths of professed atheists, you finally want to ask, “Why don’t you just go to church?”” (Jerry Coyne)
The religiose are self-appointed sole possessors of moral “truth” and the meaning of life, and refuse anyone the right to criticise them. How the accommodationists can argue that you should be nice to these bigots, is beyond comprehension.
“Go ahead, go to church, believe whatever you want. But you don’t get to whimper that sceptics and scientists aren’t allowed to disagree with you simply because it is your belief. Faith is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s an affliction to be overcome.” (P Z Myers)
“Why is it that our tactic involves people preserving their religious beliefs (which are based on faith), but moulding science (which is based on facts) to fit their world view? If anything, it should be the other way around. Religion should have to accommodate science.” (Jen McCreight; her blog is blaghag.com)
Richard Dawkins in his book, “The God Delusion”, denies that theology is a worthwhile academic discipline, because theology presupposes that there is a god in the sky you can study. Theology has not provided any evidence to support its claim, so there is no point in any study whatsoever. Theologists cannot provide the proof of the existence of their god, and accommodationists tragically allow theologists to sidestep the issue.
Lawrence M. Krauss (physicist and professor at Arizona State University) wrote:
“Last May  I attended a conference on science and public policy at which a representative of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences gave a keynote address. When I questioned how he reconciled his own reasonable views about science with sometime absurd and unjust activities of the Church – from false claims about condoms and AIDS in Africa to paedophilia among clergy – I was denounced by one speaker after another for my intolerance.”
Is it thus surprising that the strongest reticence to speak out often comes from those who should be most worried about silence? Accommodationists again and again demonstrate their inability to see the evil brought on by religion.
The accommodationists state, amongst other things:
“[I]n most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels… natural theology may be a legitimate enterprise in its own right, but we resist the insistence of intelligent-design advocates that their enterprise be taken as genuine science – just as we oppose efforts of others to elevate science into a comprehensive world view (so-called scientism).”
What a load of nonsense! The accommodationists don’t agree with Intelligent Design, they accept the biological explanation of evolution, but the evil New Atheists are “elevating science into a comprehensive worldview”. Science describes Nature. The scientific method regulates this description. Scientific “truth” is not absolute, but subject to change with new evidence. Religion describes ghosts in the sky. Nothing regulates this description. It has no independent way of checking its own claims. Religion is an unproven philosophical worldview that is totally incompatible with the scientific method. It does not take rocket science to understand the fundamental difference between, and the incompatibility, of these two worldviews. Why do clever scientists even attempt to debate that science and religion are compatible? They debate this issue because the religion virus is still very active in their minds. The god-memes are entrenched in the genes of these scientists.
13: Don’t be intimidated by the by the religiose
The religiose can be very intimidating if you let them. Just their condescending, aloof attitude towards atheists is enough to make you feel inferior. Well don’t feel inferior! Feel on top of the world! Let us look at a few of the reasons they feel so superior.
Their claim of having high moral standards
This is a very wrong argument. Just point out the immoral bloody wars religion has been responsible for throughout history – immoral and cruel, where women and children were raped in the name of Jesus, their Lord.
The Roman Catholic Church is going through a self-inflicted crisis at the moment. The rise of anti-Catholicism in Ireland and Belgium is being directly created by the actions of the Church, and until it achieves some semblance of morality itself, it should cease from condemning others. Child rape is a wide-spread crime being perpetrated within the Church by a substantial proportion of its priests, reaching across continents and going as far back in time as records exists.
And what do they do? Instead of stopping the child abuse and handing the perpetrators over to the police, they cover up the crimes.
“The pope thinks he has every right to order women to bear children they don’t want to bear, and to tell hospitals not to save the lives of pregnant women if it takes an abortion to do that.” (Ophelia Benson at butterfliesandwheels.org)
The pope also thinks he has every right to forbid the use of condoms in the HIV infected Africa. And he thinks he has every right to cover up paedophile priests who rape young children. It is time to arrest the pope and the paedophile priests, throw them in jail and close that evil institution.
Where are the high morals of the religiose now?
(Cartoon idea from Jesus and Mo; jesusandmo.net)
Their claim of truth and virtuous messages of the Bible
Another easily refuted argument – the list of contradictions in the Bible is so long, it becomes embarrassing. Just point the religiose to footnote 26, below, and ask them to explain just a few of those contradictions. The religiose fit the natural world into their doctrine, instead of it letting the natural world speak for itself:
“For atheists, evolution and other aspects of reality and the natural world come first, and the atheism comes second as a consequence, not a cause, of our understanding of the universe. For the fanatical Christian, apparently, their delusions come first, and any natural, real phenomena must be warped in their imaginations to fit their weird and unsupportable interpretation of how the universe ought to be. And they seem to think other people’s minds are distorted in the same way.” (P Z Myers)
They don’t need science to explain Life to them
The religiose, in general, claim science cannot explain love, ethics and morals. That is why religion is important according to them. We have seen the fallacy of their claim under “the religiose play the morality card” above. Science certainly cannot explain everything, but you don’t need religion to have high moral standards, or have compassion, or enjoy beauty. Without science we would still all be living in caves and some of us would be howling at the Moon; the rest of us would just laugh at our delusional friends and family.
A fact to point out is that science was severely restricted by the Roman Catholic Church for one thousand five hundred years after the Greeks and Egyptians put astronomy and geometry on a sound footing. Why did the RCC do this? The simple reason is science started to give answers contrary to the writings in the book of Genesis. Religion got Nature explained by the Bible, and any deviation from this was dealt with by force.
But science has never been a discipline religion was fond of. Too many “ugly facts” have undermined the authority of religion. It took the RCC almost four centuries to apologise for incarcerating Galileo Galilei, and everybody is still waiting for it to apologise for Giordano Bruno’s burning at the stake. Not that this has anything to do with science, but I wonder how long the RCC would take to apologise for the centuries of child abuse?
14: Questions to ask the religiose
Show us your god
“Nothing is so pleasing to these Gods as the butchery of unbelievers. Nothing so enrages them, even now, as to have someone deny their existence.” (Robert G Ingersoll)
This question drives the religiose round the bend. The question is rarely answered, and if it is, it is the usual drivel:
They see their god in Nature – we also see the same Nature they see but we don’t rely on a daddy in the sky to explain it; science is doing very well, thank you.
“Look at how god cured me from my illness” – but when you point out doctors and nurses and modern medicine, developed by science, actually were responsible for the cure, the reaction could be dangerous.
Why is your god so cruel?
You say your god is responsible for everything that happens on Earth. Then why is he so cruel? Why does he kill so many people with tsunamis, earthquakes, and other natural disasters? Why does he allow women and children to be raped and abused? Why does he allow millions to die of hunger and illness every year? But irrespective of your god’s cruelty, you and your brethren keep praying to him.
“These deities have demanded the most abject and degrading obedience. In order to please them, man must lay his very face in the dust. Of course; they have always been partial to the people who created them, and have generally shown their partiality by assisting those people to rob and destroy others, and to ravish their wives and daughters.” (Robert G Ingersoll)
Anthony Grayling (Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London) referring to people who prayed after the New Zealand earthquake:
“Indeed, were they praising and supplicating a deity who designed a world that causes such arbitrary and sudden mass killings? An omniscient being would know all the implications of what it does, so it would know it was arranging matters with these awful outcomes. Were they praising the planner of their sufferings for their sufferings, and also begging his help to escape what he had planned?
“Perhaps they think that their god was not responsible for the earthquake. If they believe that their god designed a world in which such things happen but left the world alone thereafter and does not intervene when it turns lethal on his creatures, then they implicitly question his moral character. If he is not powerful enough to do something about the world’s periodic murderous indifference to human beings, then in what sense is he a god? Instead he seems to be a big helpless ghost, useless to pray to and unworthy of praise.
“For if he is not competent to stop an earthquake or save its victims, he is definitely not competent to create a world. And if he is powerful enough to do both, but created a dangerous world that inflicts violent and agonizing sufferings arbitrarily on sentient creatures, then he is vile. Either way, what are people thinking who believe in such a being, and who go to church to praise and worship it? How, in the face of events which human kindness and concern registers as tragic and in need of help – help which human beings proceed to give to their fellows: no angels appear from the sky to do it – can they believe such an incoherent fiction as the idea of a deity? This is a perennial puzzle.”
Jerry Coyne continued from Grayling’s piece:
“This—the presence of horrible things caused not by humans, but by other features of nature—is the Achilles heel of theistic faith. Indeed, it even impugns deism, for it’s hard to imagine any kind of benevolent God who would create this kind of world. (And if you respond that “we can’t fathom God’s nature,” then why assert that he’s benevolent?)
“The response that “God made the physical universe to operate freely,” does not explain why God couldn’t have tweaked it (or set it up) to prevent earthquakes, especially since religious scientists like Simon Conway Morris and Kenneth Miller claim that God did tweak it (or set it up) to make the appearance of humans inevitable. Why one tweak but not the other?”
Why are there so many Christian denominations?
If you all read and teach from the same book, why do you disagree so much? Who is right – you, the Baptists, the Roman Catholic Church, the Apostolics?
Who created your god?
Are you debunking science because it points to your religion’s fallacy?
Now this is how the scientific method works; observation, postulation, experimentation, verification. Religion might be a beautiful theory to you, but if you test it with experiment, it fails. No matter how hard anyone tries, to prove the existence of any god fails time and again. But this doesn’t concern you, now does it? You just carry on quoting from your book of fables and expect us to accept this as proof. You assert this book of yours contains all the proof you need to silence the heathens.
Leaving young minds in your care scares me shitless.
Ask the questions, Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher asked
- Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
- Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
- Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
- Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
“The answer of course is that god is a figment of mans’ imagination. Man has imagined many gods and goddesses, atheism means not believing in any of them. Would I be correct in assuming that you (atheistically) believe in none of them but one. That one chosen arbitrarily, probably by your parents and based on your geographical location. The atheistic position in regard to the “creator of the universe” is that it cannot be proved that he exists or does not exist. The theist asserts without any evidence that not only does he exist but that it is possible to read his mind. Such claims are the product of delusion.” (From Philoctetes, a blogger at BioLogos, who gave a grand show of logical arguments against the religiose doctrine. With their thin arguments exposed, the religiose of course, true to form, ended up personally abusing Philoctetes.)
You claim you have high moral standards. Why do you spread lies to promote your religion and your god?
The “lies for Jesus” discussed under point 8, usually have the religiose on the retreat. But they are very sleazy with their arguments; here they will try to change the subject quickly, and attack you from another angle. Don’t allow them to change the subject; drive the truth dagger home. Ask them to explain the ethics of the Roman Catholic Church, for instance.
“The ethics of the Roman Catholic Church is bankrupt and without foundation. Its continued failure to deal with the sexual abuse scandal appropriately should be a clear enough indication of that. Even now, years after the scandal broke like a tidal wave over the church, the failure of the church to deal with its multiple failures to protect children is plain for all to see.” (Eric MacDonald; choiceindying.com)
15: Analysing religion makes one proud to be an atheist
The three conclusions I come to when looking at religious people, are the following:
- They have been indoctrinated to such an extent as young children, that they are still controlled by this virus of the mind. Depending on the level of psychological abuse they suffered, two outcomes usually happen. First, it would take time kill the virus, with logic and rational thinking, to enable the discarding of the religious yoke. Second, the mental abuse was so severe, that the yoke will remain on the shoulders until death. So sad.
- They are cowards. They don’t really believe, but it is much easier to go with the accepted society norms, than to openly declare one’s atheistic worldview.
- There is of course inheritance that plays a big role. Genes do not only control our biological functions, but as Steven Pinker argues very convincingly in his book “The Blank Slate”, humankind’s behaviour is to a great extent controlled by its genes. Research continues in this area, but until the juries are in, you can thank your ancestors if you are not infected with “religious genes”, as well as your parents if you were brought up in an environment of logic and critical thinking.
When one listens to the arguments of the religiose to prove the existence of their god, it feels good to be able to debunk them without much effort. The difficult part in any argument with them is to get them to stay on track. They are masters in the art of waffling and at evading straight, simple questions, or accepting scientific proof of how Nature works. They just don’t want to hear the truth. As Friedrich Nietzsche said:
“Faith means not wanting to know what is true.”
To open the religiose eyes to the ridiculous beliefs they have, is also a formidable task. Zorba the Greek (by Nikos Kazantzakis), speaking to his employer said:
“You were saying you wanted to open the people’s eyes. Just go now and teach them …. that it’s simple lunacy to give thanks to God because he’s got everything while you’re starving to death!”
Rational arguments like Zorba’s are only rational to the atheist, and it feels good to be able to see the rationality while our religiose neighbours have this mental block.
Sean Carroll, (not to be confused with biologist, Sean B Carroll) physicist, has a good explanation why it is so difficult to discard the religious cloth covering such a big percentage of humankind.
“I understand the reluctance to let go of religion as the lens through which we view questions of meaning and morality. For thousands of years it was the best we could do; it provided social structures and a framework for thinking about our place in the world. But that framework turns out not to be right, and it’s time to move on.
“Rather than opening our eyes and having the courage and clarity to accept the world as it is, and to tackle some of the real challenges it presents, as a society we insist on clinging to ideas that were once perfectly reasonable, but have long since outlived their usefulness. Nature obeys laws, we are part of nature, and our job is to understand our lives in the context of reality as it really is. Once that attitude goes from being “extremist” to being mainstream, we might start seeing some real progress.”
To be able to open your eyes and see the reality of the natural world we live in, is something to be proud of. To be able to successfully debate the religiose on their unreal worldview, is another thing to be proud of. That is why we are called militant and uncivil when we debate them with provable facts of Nature, and in return they cannot supply the most simplest of proofs of their god’s existence.
“Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to believe.” (Laurence J Peter, misquoting Sir Walter Scott)
So, be proud of your atheistic worldview, it is the only realistic one. It is a worldview that stands for truth and meaning – not lies which is what religion promotes.
“Religion is one lie after another: the lie of original sin, the lie of eternal life, the lie of hell, the lie of answered prayer, the lie that life can have no meaning without religion, the lie that religion is the source of morality, the lie of creationism, the lie of a spy-in-the-sky who hears your every word and reads your every thought. And to this list we must add the lie that it views men and women as equal. It has got away for so long with the kind of lunatic word-games that allow death-by-torture to be presented as an act of love, and eternal torment in the flames of hell to be seen as a necessary act of justice, that we should perhaps not be surprised that it has also managed to dupe its followers into seeing the systematic suppression and silencing of women as an act of liberation and equality. Nevertheless, it is a lie, like all the others: a cynical and wicked lie. It is time women everywhere woke up to it.” (Paula Kirby; The Washington Post – see footnote 28)
“Think for yourself, take responsibility for yourself, do not be a disciple, do not abdicate your mind and put it under the feet of someone else’s ideology”. (Anthony Grayling)
Let us end with Zorba and a prayer from Voltaire:
“No, I don’t believe in anything. How many times must I tell you that? I don’t believe in anything or anyone; only in Zorba. Not because Zorba is better than the others; not at all, not a little bit! He’s a brute like the rest! But I believe in Zorba because he is the only being I have in my power, the only one I know. All the rest are ghosts. I see with these eyes, I hear with these ears, I digest with these guts. All the rest are ghosts, I tell you. When I die, everything’ll die. The whole Zorbatic world will go to the bottom.”
“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” (Voltaire was referring to the meddling, religious people of his time.)
Do not refrain from pointing out how ridiculous the religiose are. And if you believe with death your “world will go to the bottom”, as Zorba’s, isn’t it about time you send these meddling, bible-thumping cretins to leave you and your children alone and start living the life of a proud, self-assured atheist? You bet!
- http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Paul_Dirac and “The Strangest Man. The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius” by Graham Farmelo.
- Evolution. What the fossils say and why it matters, by Donald R Prothero; Why Evolution is True, by Jerry A Coyne; and The Greatest Show on Earth. The evidence for evolution, by Richard Dawkins.
29. One More Reason Religion Is So Messed Up: Respected Theologian Defends Genocide and Infanticide. http://www.alternet.org/belief/150742/one_more_reason_religion_is_so_messed_up%3A_respected_theologian_defends_genocide_and_infanticide/?page=entire