What was Meant

There are two versions of this blog post, one short, and one long. I’ll put the short version first, so you can skip all the words without losing the overall message. EFFICIENCY!

Today, many people will tout that they know what the Bible means, or how to interpret the stories in it. Some will use that knowledge to preach love, some will use it to preach hate. I hope that statement isn’t overly controversial, the Westboro Baptist Church has the same Bible you do, at the very least.

But really, no matter your confidence, do we know what the people who wrote the Bible down, from Old Testament to New Testament, really wanted us to learn?

Short version answer: Nope.

Long version answer: That is a complicated question, and certainly you require a redefinition of terms at the very least to even begin to unravel the ball of yarn that is historical interpretation, translation, and intent.

To start, before the books of the Bible’s Old Testament were written down (and yea, before they could be written down) they were oral traditions. How long were they oral traditions? Well, to pin that down with any high degree of accuracy, we’d have to rely on either asking them, or having them write it dow… Wait. Nope.

So we don’t know exactly how old some of the stories are (though they do have historical markers in many of them, which help to date them). Then we continue to walk down the road of history as far as oral tradition can take us. Well, how do we know the stories that got written down were anything close to the original orations?

Well, the common rebuttal is that there were professional oral historians whose sole job was the maintain and recite history. We can see Hebrew mnemonics in certain areas of the Old Testament that are evidence of methods in use to improve recall of the stories. Certainly, a person whose sole job is to remember would do better in such an arena than would your average person off the streets… But they would have no error checking, no oversight. What would happen if or when they make a mistake?

And if you are going to tell me that stories survived 800 years orally, without any errors, I have some pieces of the original cross to sell you. Or maybe the Shroud of Turin is more up your alley?

Let me make a few modern examples to show you the flaws in that logic, in any case.

A banker’s primary role is in dealing with money. I would say the bulk of it is counting money, and ensuring accuracy in tallies and counts. They have the money in front of them, concrete, physical, unchanging. They will double and triple count money at the beginning, end, and during the day. And yet bank errors occur, despite the fact that the banker’s sole (and some would say primary) purpose is to ensure money changes hands reliably without change and… Wait, was I describing your orator or a banker? Some of those words got a little aligned there. Weird how that is.

Howe about me, in my current field of information technology. A server is designed, from the ground up, to prevent me from making errors. In order to do anything on a server that runs, say, the heating and cooling for an entire building, I will have to accept one hundred warnings, check one hundred boxes, agree to one hundred confirmations… And there are times when I, or yea, people with many years more experience than me have made errors. My sole purpose is to change these settings, to ensure they are changed properly and correctly and without error, and there are systems whose sole purpose are to stop me from making said error… But errors get made.

How about your grandparent? They will tell stories, and I am sure you have thought at times that it could not have happened like your grandparent recalled, but you’d not say anything, of course. But it is well known that dementia and Alzheimer’s are diseases primarily affecting the elderly in the population. In the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s, I’d be willing to say that your slips would be so minor that they could be attributed to a slight dimming of your recollection, to the point you (and anyone around you) would write them off simply as slips of memo–oh damn, what was the sole purpose of the orators? Memorizing things?

And who was the most revered, respected person who would pass along knowledge? The elders of the tribe? Let’s give that elder a generous age of 60 (if they lived in a nice place, a clean(ish) city, it could have happened even in time before history), and they’d be the elder for… We’ll say 20 years? Hell, give them 30 years, we’ll say for the sake of gentle argument that they were the elder for a full generation. If we assume only 800 years of oral tradition (The earliest parts of the Bible were written down in 800BC, and I know they reference events at times as early as 1600BC, though the accuracy is in question), then that was some 26 or 27 generations of elders. That is a lot of time for one of them to have had some degree of early Alzheimer’s.

But… But they obviously wouldn’t be trusted when they couldn’t recognize the face of their own kin, they wouldn’t be the elder any more! So they wouldn’t have passed on the failed stories!

You have to remember that even if we assume a generous life expectancy, they would never have had an 80 or 90 year old Alzheimer’s sufferer, or Dementia sufferer in the 10th and earlier centuries BC. The person entrusted with oration could have had slight slips of memory and died, and so the story altered over time.

But… But there would have been many orators! Many people who remembered! Several for each village, maybe!

Yes, but then you’d have conflicting versions of the story, and how would you resolve those? Well, I don’t know how they’d have done that, but it wouldn’t be hard to think that they would accede to the eldest and most respected of the elders–the one ironically with the highest chance of misremembering a detail. Even if that wasn’t their method, even if it was democratic (against all logic, since democracy was certainly not widespread at the time), you’d have younger elders who learned the slightly altered version voting for the slightly altered version.

You’d have inaccuracies creeping in over time, even if you had ten thousand safeguards. The modern translations of the Bible attest to that, for even within two years there will be versions with differing translations, errors, typos, mistakes in meaning or scholarship. Think of the monks who made copies of the Bible before the printing press; again, they had concrete copies, and yet if you look at old Bibles, you will see scholars marking “Copyist error” in the margin… And that is when they had an older version to copy-check again.

Or how about some of the earlier mass produced Bibles? There was a copy with the Commandment “Thou Shalt Commit Adultery” that was mass produced in the 17th century, only 30 years before the King James version was officially published.

So tell me again that there were no errors in the oral histories, and again I will find more evidence to show that wishful line of thinking will not hold.

How about even the word “history”? Certainly in the times of the Roman Empire, history was a much more sinuous beast, harder to catch, harder to pin down. People did not write down history as we understand the term, history was an idea, was morals and fables, not so much “writing down an accurate account of what happened.” What we call history today is more often viewed in the tax records of the time, or the census records, birth and death certificates, than it is in things that people wrote down — for what people wrote down and what happened are often at odds, and you can see what happened far more in the number of troops reported dead at some location than you can with some historian writing down about the battle. A historian may have written down that it was a great victory, where the death toll was nearly equal on both sides. This is two knives, not just a double edged sword; at work here is the fact that history was the lessons (in this case, the lesson of “we are so much better than x barbarian tribe), and also the fact that history is, was, and will be often written by the victors. In the global world we live in, it is becoming less so, and underdogs tell their tale to fanfare in these days more than ever before, but the principle still stands.

Reza Aslan wrote about this in greater length and with more gravitas than I can–though if you don’t trust Aslan, you can check with any historian who specializes in the centuries around year 0 and you will find similar messages.

So what was written down in the Bible, even when it was close to the events that happened (and you must remember that the earliest gospels were at the very minimum written in 70AD, 40 years after the death of Christ) likely weren’t written with a mind for exactly what happened. They would have been written with a mind for teaching the lessons of Christ, and if those lessons were of humility and sacrifice, well… The events of his life were certainly a great parallel. Almost a perfect parallel. One might say they were perfect for teaching the lessons of his ministry, and by gosh, we’ve come full circle. Again.

I am not calling into question the lessons they taught, as they are certainly good lessons. I am calling into account the historical veracity of the Bible. The YECs may be the only faction to take the Old Testament as historical fact (or as absolute historical fact, as in a 6000 year old world created in exactly 6 days, and with genealogies that can be traced back to Adam), but most people believe the life of Jesus was reliably written down.

It wasn’t. Depending on the details you are viewing, many traditions were in the Bible that were not present at any other time. The tradition of freeing a single prisoner during passover? Find me another reference to that outside of the Bible. Or, even taking that tradition as fact, what about freeing Barabus instead of Jesus? Were there only two prisoners? When given the choice of a rabble rouser (Jesus) and a serial killer (Barabus), wouldn’t they just vote to release no one at all?

Or what about the trial before Pilate? Pilate is recorded by history as having signed so many death warrants without having even so much as read the name on them that a formal complaint against him was lodged with Rome. The crime for which Jesus was condemned, Sedition, wasn’t even a crime for which you would have been given a trial. If you were said to be guilty of sedition, it was off to the cross with you, no questions asked. And during the Passover, when tensions were already heightened? The idea of Jesus having an audience with Pilate is almost silly.

I think I’ve belabored that point extensively enough. The idea is that the Bible can’t be taken as historical fact, as it had a political fact from over a thousand years before it would even have been recognized as a cohesive book, as the Bible you know.

So the people who decide what was meant by these stories? What allegories and laws and ideas and histories and world views should be taught? That adulterers should be stoned, that it is OK to kill an abortion doctor, that homosexual sex is a sin, that Jesus would support this or that idea… Those are what you have discovered two or three thousand years separated from the person who originally came up with what you are reading. Who is to say you learned the lessons they even wanted to teach?

For those reading between the lines in the Old Testament to come up with meanings that aren’t there in a plain reading of the text, I’d like you to step back and read this story, told colloquially (I can find no reference for it aside from a newspaper clipping, so it is at best anecdotal).

When asked about the themes and morals in his book Hatchet (part of the Life of Brian series), Gary Paulsen said that he was happy that so many people have gotten so much out of his book, but that he didn’t write it with all of these themes and morals in mind. He just wanted to tell a good story.

With that in mind, how can anyone today say that it is they that have the themes of the Bible correct? That they have interpreted them correctly, when billions of Christians who came before them with likely billions of differing interpretations have obviously gotten them wrong? That is it you who knows exactly what Jesus meant when he spoke the parable of the mustard seed, when it is a completely nonsensical parable unless it is explained to you?

Again, I do not want to shake your faith or your morals, but I want you to be careful what you claim you know. You don’t know it any better than I do, and believing that someone is going to hell because they believe differently than you is condemning everyone who isn’t you to hell, because chances are their beliefs differ in some core way from yours, but you haven’t had a conversation with everyone in your congregation, and who knows what is going on in your pastor’s head. He can’t tell you one tenth of what he is thinking in all of his sermon’s combined, so who knows where you differ from him? Where your core beliefs, something you completely disagree on based on some word of Jesus or another, may shake your relationship to the core–if you ever knew.

Just some things to think about.

What was Written

As I read through the Bible, going from the start (Genesis 1:1) to the end (Revelation 22:21), I find things I never really knew were there. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I was raised Catholic. The odd thing about Catholic services is that there is a schedule of sorts, for which chapters, verses, and from which books you will read–and certainly it does not cover the whole Bible, even in a complete cycle.

Why is that?

Well, the first reason is that there are some very odd things in the Bible (as I’ve mentioned at great length before), obviously. The second is that there are some stories in the Bible that… Well… You just know, right? The Tower of Babel is one such story, right?

I would wager that you know more about the Tower of Babel than was actually written about it. How long do you suppose the story was in the Bible? A chapter? No, it was 9 verses. It is summed up in the following:

The people all spoke one language and wanted to build a city out of brick instead of stone.

God saw this, and decided that if people built a city of brick, they could do anything. He did not like that, so he confounded their language.

Yes, that is really the gist of it. God was threatened by the humans using such advanced materials as brick, so he scattered them. This, again, seems more like God not having a lot of foresight (or human wishful thinking that really shows how little creativity people show when trying to explain something as complicated as language).

That being said, the old testament is an interesting read (or at least, parts of the old testament are very interesting) in that things are … Weird. It was Winston Churchill’s own son who was said to have quoted “God, isn’t God a shit?”

But even in the New Testament, it is the rare believer who is really familiar with the works. Certainly, the story of Jesus’ birth is a story that has as many versions as there are people who remember it. Why was Joseph in Bethlehem? Well, there are a few reasons given. Did he go to Egypt? No one is quite sure, except it is mentioned in one gospel.

Oddly for Catholics and their doctrine of the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Gospel of Matthew lists Jesus’ brothers and sisters (and, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, Jesus’ brother James led the early Christian Church from the council in Jerusalem). How can the most populous Christian Church in the world get something so obvious so wrong, and how can a billion people believe it? I mean, it is even in prayer and song; Blessed Marry, ever virgin. Can that be true? No.

I am not even talking about contradictions, here, I am just talking about the parts of the Bible that are written clearly that people simply don’t know, or completely ignore. It is like certain chapters and verses are straight up non-existent.
I won’t lie, I haven’t gotten to my reread of the Epistles of Paul, or the Book of Acts, so who knows what I will find there?

Paul is an odd character, both in his written works and in his historical story. He seems to just not care about the actual story of Jesus, aside from the ending (the resurrection). As I recall, he is more concerned with two things; how awesome he is (for as it says in the Epistle to the Galatians, chapter 1, verse 8-9, if anyone preaches a gospel to you other than what I have preached to you now, even if it is an angel of God, let him be accursed), and how much more he knows about the TRUE JESUS than the actual apostles (the same verse is a pretty good example, actually). It is well sourced that Paul did not get along with the 12 apostles, not least of the reasons being that Paul believes that he was the best apostle, selected before his birth by God. He states in his epistles that he would have been the greatest of the apostles, except for the fact that he was born too late.

The point of this is that modern Christianity is more man-made traditions than it is revelation from God. So many modern Christians think they know what is in the Bible, because their pastor said this thing or that thing, but very few understand how many traditions in the Church come from somewhere well outside of scripture.

I don’t mean to insult you, but I think if anyone wants to debate religion, or even fully discuss religion, we (as a whole society that is still majority Christian) needs to go back to the basics. It is almost a cliche, to return to the fundamentals, and to say someone is a fundamentalist Christian is often used as a back-handed compliment… But I mean it. The Catholic Church is probably the worst for made up traditions. There’s a reason lots of Protestant faiths don’t have a very high opinion of the papal seat… But even nondenominational beliefs need to be examined.

What I am saying here is before you get all up in arms, you should probably read the Bible. There was a very good snafu lately from people having no idea what the Bible means, summed up in this image.

Good times.

What’s in a Name

There are many different approaches to a name, and they manage to cover the entire spectrum. I think they are covered in the fantasy universe perhaps even better than by contemporary sources, so I’ll use extensive examples.

In Harry Potter, it is well known that the name of Voldemort is reduced to “He who must not be named,” by the general people… But by people of greater power and renown, such as Dumbledore, he is just Voldemort (or even further reduced to his original name; Tom). It is not a that a name has power, Dumbledore patiently explains, it is that people give it power.

In The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan paints a different picture. You are your name; your name is you. To invoke the true name of the Dark One, Shaitan, is nearly akin to casting a spell, drawing his attention to you. The name Shaitan is not truly a taboo to the lower of people, but it is in this universe that the most learned only are the ones who truly understand the nature of a name. In the first book, it is an ignorant yokel is said to have invoked the name of the Dark One, to prove that it holds no power, and what follows is dark fortune for a long time (crops failing, livestock dying, family coming down sick). It is clear to Robert Jordan that a name holds even more power than it is given by the people, the name is the root of the thread that is weaved into the pattern of destiny.

Why are these two diametrically opposed views even able to exist in our world?

That question is one of philosophy that I’ve barely heard discussed, but more and more there are people around me who mention it. It is Jewish tradition, well known, that you are never to utter the name of God. Further, when speaking of God, highly observant people will write “G-d”, so as to avoid digitally uttering the name of God.

The name is incredibly powerful, invoking it something that one must never do without full conviction.

In contrast, the name of God to most people is barely something worth considering. I do apologize, as I know the following curse is viewed by highly observant Christians as the worst thing a human can utter, but I do have to paint an illustration. The average person will say “Goddammit,” with almost no force, no conviction, a throwaway barely thought about.

In the real world, then, we have both Harry Potter style naming present (the ability to say Goddammit at all, without fear of repercussion being the evidence), and Wheel of Time naming (Those who read the word “Goddammit” feeling as though the world has been profaned).

Which world do we live in?

That is a question that is philosophically weighty, as it says thing about religion that cannot be merely bandied about haphazardly. I cannot tell you for a certain which world we live in, but I can tell you my beliefs.

I believe we live in the world of Harry Potter (not the fantastic elements, though I would hope most readers understand what I mean) as far as naming goes. I believe a name has no power but the power we give it, and that does allow for the Jewish (and some Christian) use of the word G-d, for to them the name has been given a great charge.

That being said, I do not believe the name (certainly to me, personally) has any power. One cannot invoke the name of God to me, and hope that I will give whatever is said more weight. If something is said to have “the weight of the Word of God,” behind it (The Bible. I am talking about the Bible here), I think it should be subjected to every bit as much scrutiny as any word published by a scientist (for the sake of popularity, I’ll reference Dawkins in this column).

It is expected of me, by YECs, that I should believe the Word of God because it has the weight of the Creator–but what does that mean?

We don’t know much of God except by the word of the Bible, and the Word of the Bible uses the name of God as a talisman. The disagreements between myself and the YEC crowd stem from the disagreement of the power of God.

What is God? Well, of course, He is God. Tautological though it may seem, the name, the word, conveys meaning to a degree, but it does not contain power.

Perhaps the meaning of the word contains power; the sum definition of God? That, I suppose, is for the reader to decide.

It is at this point that I have to step back in fear, for things that have been told to me by a good friend whose religious views I have seldom fully understood make some degree of sense–but while he would ascribe a strong power behind a name (I think?), we would disagree on this point. It is only through his context, though, that I am even able to discuss these things.

I am a very young mind in this arena of philosophy, though, and I know there is much I don’t see. Do you think a name holds power? If so, please let me know. Tell me why.

I know I am ignorant in this field, and certainly my knowledge of Jewish tradition (extra-biblical tradition, specifically) is lacking. I read a short essay on why the name of God is held in such high esteem, and I still can’t say I fully understand it all.

It is here that I must assure you that I understand why you hold God in high esteem, but God is a concept far greater than a name.

There is a much longer essay stuck between the lines here, an essay about words themselves. The religious friend I just mentioned would likely be very proud of that statement, it is something I learned directly from him.

Why does the name G-d mean less than writing God? They both refer to the exact same concept. Do you think an omniscient God is not aware of what G-d means?

The rule is that the name of God must never be written where it could be profaned, but is writing G-d not profaning the name before it could be profaned by others? Does that not count? Why doesn’t it count?

If I wrote the word God, then scratched out the “o” and changed it to a dash, that would certainly count as a defacement. But if I write the dash before I ever wrote the “o” it isn’t?

Such an odd set of rules, rules that seem very arbitrary and designed not by the mind of God but by the mind of humans. I understand, of course (from the essay I wrote) that writing G-d is a human construct, not of the Bible, but is born of the fear that someone, some day may deface the name (which, as per Deuteronomy) must never be defaced.

To write, though, “the unutterable name”, a synonym for YVHV (the name of God), still refers to that same name. So why doesn’t defacing the words “the unutterable name” count as defacing the name of God?

What is the meaning of a primary name, and other names? Certainly, to people of strong Jewish conviction, “the unutterable name” is an alternate name for God… But what makes a name “alternate” and another name “primary”? It seems to me to be more human rhetoric at work, where humans have no business working.

Of course, Muslims take that to another level, where the words used to describe God cannot be profaned (altering a Qur’an, or burning a Qur’an, of course, is punishable by death). What gives that very arrangement of words so much power? All of the words of the Qur’an are present in some form elsewhere, so why does that mere configuration have the weight of death? Is this at a higher level than that of the name of God? A lower level?

What is it that makes these things what they are?

I do not know. If anyone has any resources, or any advice, or anything that can help me understand, I am very open to it. I am sure people more knowledgeable than me could tear apart my views simply, or find flaws in my logic quickly, so go at it. I am not opposed to it at all.

Divisive Apologetics

I have so many things I want to write, and I didn’t know how to pick which to write to start my return to my general discussions–so I ended up picking the one that had been fermenting in my mind the longest. I fear that my failure to write it down may have caused the idea some stagnation and rot, so bear with me as I try to pull the relevant bits together into something that sounds coherent.

A fairly recent post on Creation Today is titled “Today’s Church trumpets an uncertain sound.” The goal stated by Creation Today, and its founder’s father, Kent Hovind, is that the Church of Christ must preach a consistent message in order to be taken seriously in a modern world. I won’t lie, their stated goal is admirable, until you get to the point where they state “And the message we have to preach, because it is the only correct message, is the message that we came up with.” The following part is implied, but I suppose I have little choice but to take it at face value, “Because we have discovered the truth behind the message of Jesus that has been hidden from everyone for the last 2000 years.”

Their message is hardly unique, and it definitely has some roots in the Bible, but the ferocity with which they believe in it, to the exclusion of all contradictory evidence, is the problem. I suppose how fiercely they believe it is neither here nor there, but they are getting new followers in the American South faster than I find entirely comfortable. The point, though, is that most people I know who are staunch Christians do not share their message. The Pope himself doesn’t share their message, though many Protestant Christian belief systems believe that the Pope is the seat of the antichrist, so perhaps his endorsement of an opposing view is something of a detriment to my side rather than something that speaks to my side.

Obviously science has something to say in this arena… And no, I am not talking about the arena of whether or not God exists. That is something that is still (and perhaps indefinitely) beyond the scope of scientific range. I am talking about the still very young field of “Creation Science”, or if you prefer “Intelligent Design.” To claim the Earth is 6,000 years old stands in stark contrast to modern scientific consensus. I am not saying that science knows the age of the Earth to an absolute value, but to compare hundreds of dating methods that agree on the general age of the Earth to within 5% to a book written by scientifically illiterate middle eastern shepherds… That is something of intellectual dishonesty that is difficult to understand, let alone believe in. Even then, to believe the Earth is 6,000 is your right, and I suppose I don’t have a problem with the belief itself. I do, however, have a problem with the attitudes that come out of that belief system.

Many Young Earth Creationists who hold fast to creation science will often speak of the “Arrogance of scientists,” and their “presuppositions.” To say “You are definitely wrong, we are definitely right, and your looking for evidence makes you the arrogant ones with a prestanding belief that ruins your objective outlook,” hurts me. It really does.

I am not writing this to merely state that I don’t like their view, but to state that I find their view to be somewhat reprehensible in a way that isn’t absolutely obvious. The issue is, they claim several things; they claim that they are right, that science bears them out, that the evidence of God is self-evident, that (as per the legendary Bible quote Romans 1:20) anyone who does not realize they are right is a fool (and they will use it as an insult, though while telling you they mean no such thing).

The other issue with this belief system is that it exists within an echo chamber; the population of the United States consistently shows in polls that they believe the Young Earth View. The United States as a general idea seems to have grown increasingly arrogant in the last decades, believing themselves to be the World Police, morally right, the freest nation on the planet. Somehow, though they only came to nationhood in the 18th century, you will hear many people say that they are the elect of God and Jesus; George W. Bush believed (or at least stated his belief) that he was elected to the Presidency by God, a view that perhaps gave him a surety in his many objectively poor decisions that borders on dangerousness. If a strong believer actually fully believed that their ideas were endorsed by He of the Most High, what ruin could he wreak with his decisions, believing they were correct the whole time?

That question isn’t really rhetorical, we have evidence, in the global recession that occurred under Bush. Bill Clinton managed to create a budgetary surplus; the United States was on track to clear their debts. They are now so far in debt, so far in the red, no one on either side of the party really knows how they are going to reverse it.

This comes down to the religiosity of the voting public, and I think this has some kind of basis in modern apologetics. The reason apologetics has become divisive isn’t in their message (they do mostly preach peace, though there are certainly some issues with hatred in some parts of their message, I believe they could be ironed out), but it is because of their fanaticism. Like so many religions that came before, young earth biblical fundamentalism has some malignancy that has yet to be ironed out. To believe, for example, that their religion should be spread at the point of a sword is still a problem many face. Even if not at the point of a sword, many in the young earth movements believe that the world would be a better place if everyone believed in their brand of religion. This has created a divide. (HAH! See, I worked this post around to the title, and all it took was one thousand words! With a word economy like that, I could really be a writer, hey?!)

The problem with apologetics is that it relies, leans, depends, upon the statement that “Our God is not a God of confusion,” and further that the Bible should be read literally. The idea that the Bible is without error has been proven false, both here and elsewhere, and many have done it far better than I could. This has created an issue where people on the same side, that of young earth evangelism, end up fighting each other. Dr Henry Morris is credited with founding the idea of modern creation science. It is odd, but I think it worth pointing out that the PhD that earned Dr Morris his title was in hydraulic engineering, a field that I am not sure really aligns with any requirement to make definitive statements about the Bible. That being said, his book (the New Defender’s Bible) is generally heralded as the best book on apologetics that the average person could hope to find. Obviously, it is based on the King James Version, which for some reason is touted by many as the perfect bible despite modern translation improvements showing certain phrases to be in error…

If God is not a God of confusion, why does Kent Hovind repeatedly state in many of his speeches that he disagrees with Dr Morris on several counts? If God is not a God of confusion, why do so many apologists trumpet such a different sound? As an improvement on the old message, it is worth noting that the modern message of Eric Hovind (son of Kent Hovind) is aligned with Answers in Genesis… Though I would go as far as to say that this is less that he believes as they do, and more to do with the fact that AIG is such a powerhouse in modern apologetics, to fight against that current would be to drown and disappear.

The other reason apologetics is divisive is that it also balances upon the statement “We know everything now that we need to know.” So often evangelical preachers have stood against science, mostly when it runs perpendicular to their own personal message, but it isn’t always so. We know almost nothing, so little that it is impossible to list what we don’t know; that list would dwarf the list of what we do know so completely that it would hardly be worth the time to write down what we know… Except for the fact that we need this basis to build more knowledge.

What was it that eradicated small pox? It wasn’t religion. What was it that caused the murder of women in Salem? It wasn’t science.

The above was incredibly unfair, but rhetoric often helps to make a point. If everyone in the world were a peasant making food in the service to some enlightened person in the Church, I doubt we would be where we are today. I am not calling the Church anti-scientific, though it has had… Phases? There are times when it has stood against scientific flow, and modern YEC evangelism is still standing in stark opposition to science. To argue against Darwinian evolution is a failing point. To argue against spontaneous life is certainly valid, but I do not understand why “from nothing came something” is impossible, but God created everything by speaking it into existence, and only an ignorant person would stand against that! I do not understand what it is about that statement that makes it so compelling to so many people.

That being said, to say “You don’t know how life began,” is not an insult; it is a mere statement of fact. Science does not know how life first formed, though they are at least working on the problem. If they figure it out, what happens then, I wonder? YEC scientists would never try to create life in a lab, I think, because their belief system calls the idea impossible.

I’d like the think that science relies on the idea that nothing is impossible, just very, very, unlikely.

The point of this semi-coherent ramble is this; if you are right, secular science will eventually come to the same conclusions of you. So shouting “you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” at the top of your lungs helps no one. You should be working with scientists in secular laboratories, helping them find the answers. The problem is, in order to do that, you must start from the assumption that we don’t yet know the answer, that we have yet to find it.

Perhaps you can use the Bible as an answer key, in some cases, but only in hindsight. You still have to show your work, and quite often most scientists will say that the creation scientist has ignored a key piece of evidence or has ignored some new piece of information found after the presented information, and anyone who keeps up with the field would have known that.

If that is the case (and I would tend to think it is so), why should we rely on scientists who ignore contradictory evidence? How does one trust them?

It is a universal thing, really; a fanatic will ignore anything that would stand in the way of their fanaticism. It creates a divide between the true and the imagined. I think Justin Bieber is almost the perfect example; he has been caught doing awful things, like spitting on fans, like driving under the influence of alcohol, like being a general jackass… But many Beliebers will say that he didn’t really, or that he was misunderstood, or any one of a thousand excuses. The same is true of YEC scientists, I fear.

Again, this wouldn’t be a divisive issue if they kept their beliefs… But their own ideas require the Christian to attempt to spread these ideas.

They don’t even want to work with secular science, that is why they have their own schools, their own colleges and universities, their own areas of study and labs–they don’t even want to work with scientists unless the scientists will agree with them.

So what I propose is we leave each other alone for fifty years, let the YECs toil away in their labs, general scientists toil away in the labs of public universities, and then we can compare notes in 2065. I am sure we will all learn a lot from each other, and I think science would progress at a much higher pace if we stopped fighting… Particularly because the United States has a lot of money to spend on science, and the YEC influence that is huge in that country is slowing things down.

It’d be awesome if we all just acted like adults rather than kids who could fight for weeks about “MY DAD IS BETTER THAN YOUR DAD!”

Bah, I don’t really like how this post came out. It is kind of negative, doesn’t really prove a point. I suppose it is just here to put some information down, consolidate some of my own thoughts. When I take two weeks off of writing, a whole bunch of crud builds up. I think it is going to take me a few posts to get over it all. The next few days will probably see me writing with less cohesion than normal, so please forgive me while I figure some stuff out.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful 2015!

New Year, New You

I had a little bit of an impromptu break there, but I promise that while I wasn’t writing I was definitely doing research, watching documentaries, reading books. There are ten thousand ideas swirling around in my head, and through time I am sure that I will be able to write them all down.

If you like this blog, I am sure you will find more in the New Year that will please you. If you don’t, I am not sure what I can tell you.While this blog was started without the express intention of being a religious/irreligious place to write my ideas out, it definitely ended up with an overwhelming theme. Certainly, going back to the very beginning (only three months ago? WHAT?), you can see that there was more variety… But with that variety, it was clear that there was really no true demographic.

I have a whole bunch of half finished articles from my break, but I really never truly felt that those articles were worthy of discussion. They were me spouting ideas and things that probably had no home here. When I post, I don’t want to just shove my ideas down everyone’s throat; I want to generate a bit of discussion. If you’ve been here on the blog for a while, you know that I am not nontheistic because I want to be, I am nontheistic because religion (certainly, modern branches of Christianity at the least) never gave me the answers I have been looking for. When I post an article that has my thoughts in it, I want to spark a discussion, or help people understand what is going on in my head, so that when we discuss everyone knows where I am coming from.

I am not going to post some self-serving New Year’s Resolution, though; what I am going to be doing with this blog is the same as I have been doing. I’d love to see it grow, I’d love more readers and more discussions in the comments, but I won’t resolve to grow it. The blog should grow organically, not because I will it to, or force my ideas down more people’s throats. My actual New Year’s Resolution is to get myself off of antidepressants. What will this blog look like when I am off medication? WHO KNOWS!

I really want to thank everyone who has read the blog to date. Your comments and discussion, rare or common, have given me an incredible drive to grow this. My blog is still only a quarter of a year old, but I have discussions going on, and people have mentioned they read it that I had no idea would have been interested in the materials I discuss here. There are people I haven’t met (read: Haven’t forced to read this blog) who have read and commented. I have several followers, all of whom I thank sincerely.

If I can spark discussions in under 3 months, while I am still figuring out what to write and how to write it, then what will this blog look like in a year? In two years?

I don’t plan to slow down, I want to grow and mature, journey and improve, and have a conversation with all of you about what you believe, about what I believe, and to make the world a better place (even if only in my own tiny corner of the internet). I won’t lie, if fifty people read only a small part of my blog and if fifty people can come together to make the world a better place, then I will feel like I have had an incredible impact. I am not saying “If fifty readers of my blog lose their religion”, that isn’t what I want, but if fifty people can just be kind to others, and think about their own actions in respect to how they impact everyone around them… Well, those fifty people can talk to one person each, and maybe those people will then think about how they act towards others.

Maybe I am being optimistic, but I am just so happy that even one person thinks what I write is worth reading.

As we move forward into the depth of 2015, let’s all become better people together. If you are theistic, I wish you to grow a deeper relationship with your deity. If you are nontheistic, I let’s grow together in respect and tolerance of those around us, but understand ourselves and each other with greater empathy.

In the New Year, let’s all be better people. It’ll be awesome.

If we start small, start with only one person (ourselves) we can make a huge impact on the world. I think it is important to remember that.

No one snowflake ever feels responsible for an avalanche, but if each individual snowflake makes an impact, imagine what we can do!

I think my break is over, the seal is broken, and content will start filling this blog again at an obnoxious rate. Just like before. It’ll be awesome!