But why?

So I was watching the new episode of Creation Today and I just… Am so sad at what they think of how lowly they think of other human beings. The episode itself is about pain and suffering, but for the most part they focus on the low hanging fruit, ignoring what others would consider the real issue.

They talk about how pain is important for our survival, citing a child with CIP (does not feel pain) who constantly injures herself as a result. “Obviously,” their reasoning goes, “pain is important. Case closed.”

What’s really funny is that they opened the episode with Stephen Fry asking why God would give children bone cancer, but ignore that point. “Christianity is the only religion that explains why pain is important.” They never touch on how children with cancer improve our world, but they do argue that general pain does. I mean, often the YEC will resort to misdirection, but they are the ones who brought up Stephen Fry, they are the ones who highlighted this clip of him lamenting children who live short, painful lives, then die, and then they are the ones who completely ignore the point they brought up. That is quite odd, even for them.

The weird part is where they get into ethics; “Atheists just think we are matter doing things to other matter, and why should that matter? Atheists really believe there is nothing wrong with murder!” Why do you get to say that? Why do you think there are no scientific reasons for morality and ethics? Why do you so strongly think you know what I believe more than I do?

I am sad that they think so little of people who are not Christian. They will tell you that they love all people, that they want to spread the word, that they want to convert people… And it works on some, but their methods are so insidious. “You are worthless except to God,” goes their logic, “Your morals are bad, your ethics are bad, you are going to hell, you are ignoring science, facts, and knowledge, you are looking at the world wrong, your thoughts are wrong. So join us, and all of that goes away!”

Wow. I am glad you think so highly of me. I am glad you are so reasonable.

They go further, in the episode; “Forest fires kill hundreds of humans, destroy life, damage habitats. So we should stop them, right? WRONG! Ecosystems require forest fires to thrive!” That is correct, of course; many lives, many trees, many ecosystems rely on forest fires for their regenerative purposes, for clearing out the old to make way for the new. We cannot stop them, and many will die in the future, many homes lost, many lives destroyed, because there is a greater good that comes from it.

But why?

Why did God create the ecosystem, as they would assert, that requires the destruction of so much, the death of so many? Is that pain good? Is it required? Did He have to create it that way? They tackled the question of forest fires from only the first level, assuming they are a given, but why should they be a given in a world created by an all loving, all caring creator? I am not attacking the fact that God did create these forest fires, the true question is “Why?” Why did God create an ecosystem that not only kills His Chosen people, but requires killing.

To me, it is always odd when people cite The Exodus as a reason that God loved his Chosen people. “He went to bat for us! He destroyed the Egyptians! He helped us escape oppression!”

First, he helped you escape after 400 or more years of oppression, by your own count. Second, once you escaped, he didn’t give you a home–you wandered for 40 years in the desert. Not only that, but He, the God who loves you, put strange, almost crazy restrictions on the Chosen people, the people that He loved. Dietary restrictions? You know it! Restrictions requiring the painful and occasionally horrific modification of male genitalia? Absolutely! How about we go back even further, because right out of the gate, even long before this, He cursed all women to monthly menstrual cycles and the pain of child birth, due to them eating a fruit! And, if one thinks about this at even the shallowest level, you have to remember that Eve did not know it was wrong. She and Adam had not yet eaten of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which means they would not have known their actions were evil. Oh, they may have found it odd that they were going against something God said, but all people go against their parents via our apparently God-given instincts. What do you do if your child disobeys you for the VERY FIRST TIME? Do you punish them slightly? Ground them? Get unhappy with them?

I am going to assume you would not curse their entire gender. I would say their entire species, but that isn’t true, is it? God is not good at targeting His curses, for He hit the females of every animal species because of Eve. Those are not the actions of a loving God. Those aren’t the actions of a stable God. Those aren’t the actions of a sane God.

This might seem an unjust attack on Christianity, or on a loving God, but that isn’t what I intended. I wanted to build context. “Why do you believe God loves us?”

Is it the Exodus? We covered that, the Exodus took his “Chosen” people from 400 years of slavery into 40 years of starvation and thirst. During that, His people were subjected to harsh Laws and restrictions. Hell, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he calls what God did “The curse of the Law.” That’s right, God saved His chosen people… Then immediately cursed them. Did He curse the Chinese, who did not know of him? The North American Native peoples? The Mayans? No, He did not curse those people. He cursed His chosen, but not any of his non-Chosen, except for the Egyptians… But thinking about that, they rebounded FAR BETTER than the Jewish people.

During any point in history prior to, and for several years after, Jesus Christ, being a Chosen Person of God was TERRIBLE. It was a curse, a hamper, it required pain and suffering. Pain and suffering of the kind that no other people had to suffer.

Hell, even after Christianity was accepted as the official religion of Rome, being a chosen person of God was awful. Right up through World War 2, where Hitler killed so many Jews, following that ancient religion has been a burden more terrible than God has set out for His non-Chosen. Being a Christian was not flowery, either, for there was the wars with the Muslims, the Crusades, the Inquisition. I hope you were born believing the right version of being God’s Chosen, because even being a Christian could get you killed by other Christians. There is a saying that I love that goes back many decades, and I do not know the original source, but it basically states that prior to the eighteenth century, Muslims were more tolerant of Christians than Christians were tolerant of other Christians.

“But for our pain, we are granted eternal paradise!” But why would God require you to suffer for the blink of an eye, for 10 or 20 or 70 years under oppression and pain, then give you eternal life? That seems such an odd choice.

And then, of course, come the odd questions–if someone has never heard of Christianity, will they go to Heaven? There is an old joke about African Missionaries converting pagans to Christianity. A pagan woman asks “If I become a Christian, will I go to Heaven?”

“Yes,” replies the Missionary.

“But,” continues the woman, “Would I have gone to Hell if I had never heard of your Christianity?”

“No,” the Missionary answers, “You would have been judged by your works, since you had never heard of God, He would not have punished you for it.”

“Then why,” the woman says, exasperated, “Did you tell me about your God?”

It’s sort of funny, but it’s more sad. Do you not read the implication there? In what the Missionary said? “You would have been better off had you never heard of our God, for you would not have had to Believe this particular story to go to Heaven.”

Again, not only are God’s own people punished, but people who are not of His own flock are rewarded for never having heard of his flock. And God loves His Chosen?

It sounds like He loves everyone except His Chosen.

So why?

But why?

Why?

Why do you believe God loves you? Why do you believe God cares? I simply do not have the tools at my disposal to answer that question for myself.

Quick Thought to Calm my Rage

I had a religious documentary on in the background, its assertions so ill conceived that it was mostly just white noise, when I heard Ken Ham’s angelic voice and my attention snapped instantly to what I was hearing.

“God created the world to be perfect,” he said. “It was man’s rebellion against him that [ruined it]. And because of that, we don’t deserve to be alive. We don’t deserve to live. We should be dead. But he did something wonderful.” He continued on into the story of Jesus’ sacrifice, but I was well and truly stunned into a stupor at hearing a familiar idea boiled down so low, leaving it so open to even the most casual person tearing it apart.

If every teenager who rebelled against their parents should die (and worth noting is that the Bible totally supports that idea), we’d be a very short lived species.

The thing about parents is that they have no say in the personality of their child. They can try to teach him or her right and wrong, lead them on the correct path to righteousness and goodness, but as most parents find, the human mind is a mind of its own.

God is not like a normal parent. He is omnipotent. He could create us with exactly the personality he wanted us to have. He had the power to choose exactly how we would behave, He could have balanced very carefully our desire to serve Him and our desire to exercise free will, He can (apparently) see the future, and thus each small tweak would give Him a glimpse into how we would act.

And yet, with all this power, He did such a poor job of creating us that the very first humans screwed up almost immediately.

It’s like breaking the leg of a horse then getting angry when it doesn’t even finish the race — it was never going to finish the race.

If we are designed, God did a hack job of it.

If we deserve to die because God did a terrible job in creating us, I can see why certain sects of modern Christianity have such a public relations issue.

Passive Christianity, Part 1

There is an eternal war within Christianity, one that will never end so long as rich people want to stay rich, so long as the government exists, so long as Christianity exists. It is a war about the message of Jesus, a war with intelligent men and women on all sides, and a war I cannot fully comprehend.

Does Christianity teach socialism?

As those on my facebook are likely aware, I tripped upon Libertarian Christian Doctrine yesterday, and I simply don’t understand their reading of the Bible at a surface level. I am trying to remedy that by reading their primer. The very first thing they say, the starting point for their Christian foundations, is the war I just mentioned, whether or not Socialism was on Jesus’ radar.

To be fair, a very literal, very strict, very passive reading of Jesus’ words allows for this. Oh, you don’t think I should be using literal, strict, and passive to describe the same thing? Please allow me to justify myself.

The core of their argument rests upon whether Jesus preached mandatory or optional charity, and as all things on this topic, references Acts chapter 4 as a passage in the Bible that they consider to be misleading unless read with the correct frame of mind (as opposed to those who think God is not a God of confusion, of course). Acts 4 speaks of the early Christian Church charitably selling their possessions, a la Jonestown (negative connotations obviously intended), to support the group. They didn’t do this because they had to (as a function of a command, I suppose, as obviously they did this out of necessity), but because of the charitable spirit of Christianity.

I think the thing that people forget is that we use the term Charity far differently than they would back in the day. To them, the closest thing they could understand in our modern world to charity would likely have been a soup kitchen; aside from various religious sects, you didn’t just hand your money over to anyone and expect then that they would care for the people you wanted them to care for. At least, I have no historical knowledge of the “Save the Lepers” foundation around the turn of the first millennium, but that is obviously open to dispute by someone who knows of such a charity. The thing is, prior to Jesus, the Church was a form of government where God was merely analogous to President or Emperor, or your chosen title. God laid down laws, and while many may believe that the Ten Commandments are those laws, they have likely never read Leviticus or Deuteronomy. Those two books have laws so strict and so in violation of the idea of liberty that I can’t believe any Libertarian ever made it through them to the New Testament (if you are of the opinion that “I should be able to drink and drive if I want, and the consequences be upon my shoulders,” I wonder if you recall how strict Jewish Law was in how drinking was performed, or what they are allowed to dress in, or how sick people are to be “handled.”).

This brings us to the next battleground, whether the Old Testament law matters at all, whether we should be talking about it. Everyone seems to agree that the Ten Commandments apply, but Leviticus and Deuteronomy are traditionally (though not historically) attributed to the same man who wrote the Ten Commandments, the person of Moses. There is some argument over the meaning and context of Matthew 5:18, for example. What does that mean, “until all is accomplished”? Well, if you take it out of context, people obviously assume that means “Until Jesus rises to heaven,” and thus done is done, all is accomplished, and we don’t have to follow the Law! Huzzah! But wait, what’s that other part in the same verse?

“Until heaven and earth pass away”? That is harder to explain away, and it seems Jesus (and certainly James his Brother), both agreed that the Old Testament should be adhered to in every tenet. Well damn, this is awkward, right? And, can you believe it, this is a line during the Sermon on the Mount. Tough to ignore that kind of gravitas.

There is a retreat of sorts used by most people who are trying to argue The Law out modern discourse, in that St Paul wrote (Romans 7:1-6), in stark, almost perfect contrast to Jesus, that we are freed from the law (Galatians 3:13). Now, I would challenge a person to find where Jesus even so much as implied this sentiment? And why we take it as Gospel truth despite literally not appearing in the Gospels? And why Paul is allowed to create doctrine that has no previous basis? In word-for-word contrast to Jesus’ teaching that the Law is to be adhered to, even so much as the Pharisees, to exceed them in Righteousness, on pain of Hell? 

But this is where the intersection gets very interesting, and I could talk about this for days, for years. I can quote Jesus, and my general modern Christian opposition can quote Paul, and they are both incredibly potent quotes. The side you take depends on the baggage you bring to the table. Reading it and wanting to believe purely in the loving message of Jesus, one will obviously side with Paul. Those who are truly Christian fundamentalists should understand that the Early Christian Church practiced Jewish Tradition. These were Christians, in the earliest sense of the word, who had a schism with Jews, but still believed Jewish law was binding.

So long as the Bible is in conflict with itself, there is no end to the war, for both sides have the greatest soldier on their side, fighting the other side… The soldier of God’s word. What I want to know is how God’s word is considered a sharp, potent weapon when it cuts both ways so equally.

I’ve only gone two levels deep in this discussion, and I already have a blog length post going on here. I am going to read more into this Libertarian Christian movement, see if I can find anything more in alignment with my own interpretation of the Bible, and then post my thoughts for all both of my readers to ponder.

This is obviously not a conclusion, which means I can make a series to this effect. This should be fun! I will write more about it, because I need to lay a lot more ground work before I can write a proper conclusion, before I can touch all the points I’ve brought up with some sort of finality of explanation. I hope you don’t mind, especially since this basically means I won’t be having any one week breaks in the near future!

Anyway, see you next time.

To Tweak the Design

The below is a plea for help in understanding … something. I don’t even know what it is I could understand. I would like to understand your belief, theoretical Christian reader. It may help me return to the Church. I want to understand the mind of God, but I know all I generally get is platitudes about no one understanding His plan, so I guess that is off the table. I want to understand the Bible better, but my questions are difficult, they are hard, they are pointed, they are directed. Please help me answer them, if you can, it would help me return to the Church, if such a thing is even remotely possible any more…

“Everything according to His plan,” a refrain often stated when worst meets worse to comfort those affected. I don’t want to take away the comfort you feel, but I do want to know what it is about this that gives you comfort. What is God’s design?

I’ve written about my opinions on this several times in the past, but I thought I’d take another crack at it. I think my writing is getting better, that I am able to more clearly articulate what I want to say, and maybe I can pour something of my soul onto this page as a sort of continued self-therapy. And maybe you’ll enjoy it? I guess?

I have never understood the justice of God, I am comfortable saying that. He has always seemed to have a stunning parity with an abusive parent; giving commands He knows you won’t follow, and punishing you horribly when you do not. You don’t have to go very deeply into the Bible to see what I mean, this is exactly how He treated Adam and Eve.

Step back and think about the story; God put a tree that they were not allowed to eat from in the middle of their home, put a serpent in there that was obviously evil (if Sin didn’t exist before Eve ate the apple, I guess the serpent did nothing wrong), and then let everything play out. But it is worse than that, isn’t it? He made these humans, with all of the foresight available to a being who can apparently see the future as though it were this very moment.

So think about that; He made Adam and Eve knowing that they would almost immediately disobey him, and if the modern understanding is to be believed, every human ever born until Jesus died was sent to the pit, or purgatory, or hell, or some kind of stasis. But why? How is that justice? I need one of the faithful to explain it to me, because I (in my limited experience and understanding) cannot make sense of the story, and a huge portion of my peers seem to take it without a second glance that it was the human’s fault, not God’s. As though the humans had the tools to even properly follow the rules?

God did not write them down, did not tell Adam and Eve the details. He just said, in His infinite wisdom and ability to see the future, “Don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Think about that, though; if they did not know good from evil, how would they even have known what they were doing was wrong? Like a child who is told not to stick a fork in the wall socket; a good parent will cover the wall sockets because they do not want the child to electrocute themselves to death. But God did not cover the tree of good and evil with a socket cover; he put it in the middle of the garden, apparently in plain sight, with nothing stopping the very young and inexperienced Adam and Eve from eating of it aside from telling them not to. You have to remember, given the Young Earth ages presented, Adam and Eve could not have been more than a few years old at the time, and whether they were given adult bodies or not, they likely didn’t have any real world experience built into them.

Regardless of what Adam and Eve did, even God shows some restraint in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, in that He claims that He will only punish a child unto the fourth (maaaayyybbbeeee tenth) generation for the sins of his or her parents, and yet here we are (what is this, the 27th generation?) apparently being punished specifically for Adam’s sin. Apparently in the Bible writer’s mind, women were so inconsequential that we are not even punished for her sin, only all females for all time, what with the monthly bleeding and birthing pains (God’s justice is so level handed).

But we go even deeper, in that God created everything and (we are told) it was Good. But He could see the future. When He created humans, He knew (before ever saying a single word) that we would almost instantly break His commands, and the (again) very even handed punishment is an eternity of torment in hell for all humans save for a select few who number fewer than my available digits. Well, at least until Jesus, but again showing all that love and foresight God is known for, He decided to wait another 4000 years before sending His only begotten Son to redeem our sins. And He only sent this son after threatening to kill all of his chosen people several times.

Given that we disobeyed Him almost instantly (one source seems to think we did it within 45 minutes of creation, and at that point I can do nothing but respect the speed at which the Serpent operates), one would think that God (in His infinite wisdom) could have tweaked the design of free will just a hair? Maybe give us a few thousand years of paradise? The thing is, God gave only two humans paradise, and even then only for a very short amount of time (and given the staggering numbers of humans who have lived, one finds that God seems to have a very limited sense of fair play).

I’ve made numerous analogies and metaphors in regards to how I view God as operating towards His people, but I think some need to be restated for emphasis.

I stand by what I said; God is a worse parent than the mother who puts plug stops on the electrical outlets. I’d liken God’s sense of parenting to keeping the liquor under the sink, and not having any child locks. Probably keeps Drano under there, too–not even because He needs to use Drano, but because He wants to see if we’ll drink it. Given what I know about people (and the fact that I have a friend whose brother downed a bottle of isopropyl alcohol…), my own guess would be that yes, yes there are many who would drink that Drano.

Even worse, even before becoming a parent, God is a child who demands a puppy, gets it, and lets it run around the house — but when it pees on the carpet, the carpet He never trained it not to pee on, He beats it. Not just once, either. He ties it to a beating post for the rest of its life, for that single incident. Not only that, but He breeds it. He breeds it, then beats His dog’s puppies, because his dog peed on the carpet He never trained it not to pee on. 

I may sound angry and bitter, but really I am not. What I truly am is confused. I am confused how someone can believe there is a loving God at work. If you believe there is a loving God at work, I am confused as to how. I am confused as to how God’s justice is supposed to work, and I am confused as to how you call it justice. When I ask those faithful in my life this question, generally the response I receive is along the lines of “God makes the rules, therefore everything He does is just.”

That just raises the eternal question: Are moral actions moral because God said they are moral, or did God just tell us what was moral? If God told you to rape a small child, would that be considered moral because God said so? These are theoreticals, and often ignored by anyone who still has the patience to talk to me; “Well, obviously God wouldn’t tell me to do that.” That doesn’t answer the question.

How about God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? If Abraham had gone through with it, would that have been moral? Again, many who have spoken to me have raised the fact that God did not let Abraham do the killing, and while I am not angry at God, per se, I do get angry with the excuses. These are blind excuses, excuses designed to give God an out in whichever situation He finds Himself written into.

How about the tale of Jephthah? He said if he won the upcoming battle, he’d sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house. Now, barring the fact that this is possibly the most short sighted thing anyone could say (what was going to come out of his house to greet him upon his return? Not his wife or daughter, obviously!), God sits back and lets this all happen. And God does not stop Jephthah from sacrificing his daughter. Does God’s tacit approval make this sacrifice moral? God could have let that battle go the other way, or told Jephthah not to bother with the daughter sacrifice (He did intervene on Isaac’s behalf, one must remember).

All of this has just been a brain dump, because too few people will talk about this subject with me. They feel attacked, and I suppose it could come off that way (in fact, of course it would come across that way), but if you can’t answer the hard questions how can I find my way back to the fold? I have hard questions, questions I need answered before I could ever consider returning to the Church, and the best I seem to get is that I shouldn’t ask these questions.

Are the people I talk to afraid of them? Is Christianity built on the principles of “Don’t ask questions!”? Is God too fragile for my hard questions? No, I would never think that, but I am afraid that my questions are a plague in the mind of the believer; once they really start to consider the story, they have very few options. They can answer my questions, though no one has taken this option. They can ignore the questions (a perennial favorite). They can just say they trust in God (to my own mind, this adds up to the coward’s way out, for the person and for God). But if I am to return to the Church, I need these answers, and every day that passes, every person I ask who gives me uncomfortable shrugs or tells me that I am disrespecting them by even asking these questions, or ignores me, or gives me words that they use to comfort themselves, I drift further and further from God.

What advice is there for one like me? Go read the Bible? Oh, I have been reading the Bible, and all I can find is more questions and few answers. The Bible is great, if you are willing to believe the words “I love all my people!” But if you read the actions as much as the words (communication is 80% nonverbal, or whatever the number is), the actions that follow God’s professions of love are often “Man, I am going to kill like… a TON of people. Lots of them will be Israelites.” Those are the exact actions of a man who beats his wife under the umbrella of “I hit you because I love you, and you made me do this.”

What is it that humans have forced God to do? Is that what it is? We have forced God to hit us? Seems odd for us to force God to do anything.

Help me. I am asking for help here. Help me understand God’s… “love.” Help me understand God’s… “justice.” Help me understand how God is anything but the father with a belt, a strong strapping arm, a lot of time, and maybe some boredom. I really am asking for your help, as much as my words make that difficult to believe.

Where it all Started

I am going to preface this post by saying I need to give myself a self-imposed ban from AiG. I mean, I know there are people who like it when I write things (at least, they tell me they do…), so maybe I should go back more often–but as it stands, every post I read sparks something that I feel I need to write down. And then I make multiple posts in a single day, and there is no stemming the tide, and eventually people decide I am too wordy and never come back.

That is a concern for another day; my concern right now is the true root of the issue, the point that Ken Ham has tried to hammer home with the force of one thousand suns, and which seems to slide by so many people unnoticed. Certainly, it slid by me unnoticed; I’ve written about this very issue, but somehow missed the point over and over and over again. Certainly, it is an application of Occam’s actual razor; not the popular iteration (easiest solution is best solution), as that iteration is: a) not Occam’s razor, and b) leads to very incorrect application.

Occam’s razor states that among competing interpretations of the same data, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be taken as correct. Now, the razor is non-binding, meaning a more complicated solution could be correct, but let’s grab this idea and run with it for a second. In the article I was reading, the writer makes reference to Bill Nye’s assumptions muddying the waters of good science. So you know what? Let’s step back and think about some assumptions.

I’d like to start with the very beginning of the universe. How did the universe start? Well, we have the two primary competing theories, that the universe was created, pitted against the idea of the Big Bang.

What are the assumptions underlying each? Well, we can start with offsetting assumptions; the Christian will assume a God, and the scientist will assume the matter involved in the Big Bang. No points to either side, there. We move along, the YEC assumes that the universe had very different laws in the first six days of creation; this can be inferred easily by the fact that plant life was created before the Sun; you have to assume that plants had some system that allowed them to live without sunlight, or that God is in fact a leading source of your daily UV intake (something that seems silly to me, but whatever). What about the assumption that physics somehow supported a Hydrosphere above our current atmosphere that contained all of the water that now covers the Earth? We also assume that modern biology (less than 6,000 years old) somehow survived the pressure of the atmosphere getting cut not just in half, but probably more than that. Those are some large assumptions.

Obviously, someone may come back saying that the Big Bang is an assumption that things happened and then stuff existed, but I think you are making an error of judgment in making that call. We didn’t start from the assumption that the big bang existed, we took the relative velocities of hundreds of thousands of galaxies (more than that now, but we are talking the early days of the theory), and performed a ton of mathematical equations on them. Doing the math, then applying it in reverse with respect to time, we end up at a singularity.

“Ah!” You may counter. “But what about the geologists who assume an old universe?” Thank you for conveniently bringing that up right when I needed it, theoretical reader who doesn’t exist probably!

They don’t assume an old universe; they defer to an expert. To clarify, any geologist could go to a cosmologist, and ask to see the math that indicates the universe is old, and get an educated answer.

“AHA!” You reply with great vehemence. “How is that different from me deferring to God as an expert on all things?”

Deferring to God (or the Bible, but there’s another assumption; you are assuming the truth of a book that claims it is true, a bit of semi-circular reasoning I discussed with fervor yesterday) is not like a geologist deferring to a cosmologist. A cosmologist can show their work; the answer provided by the Bible doesn’t show work, it doesn’t explain the physics. Does the Bible explain how the plants lived without the Sun? No, we have to make that assumption. Aw man, assumptions are piling up on the YEC side.

Now, we do the math in reverse until we arrive very near to the singularity. We aren’t there yet, don’t have all of the answers we need, but do you know what? We don’t assume the answer. Tomorrow, we may find some evidence that proves us wrong. But do you know what? You know what is really funny? We make so many fewer assumptions, despite the YEC tendency to assume wild amounts of things. How about some other assumptions that underlie the 6000 year cosmology?

Assumption: God is infallible.
Assumption: The Bible is infallible.
Assumption: God exists outside of time.
Assumption: The rules of science change to fit your view.
Assumption: Humans wrote down the Bible correctly.
Assumption: Translators made no errors. (We can pretty much objectively prove this false, and easily so in the case of the KJV)

Oh, I am not going to get on an arrogant horse and say that science makes no assumptions. We just make fewer. For example, in the Big Bang example I’ve been using, I have to rely on math. We have to assume 1+1=2, for without the ground work what good does it do us? But beyond that, all math is basically a function of that truth. We don’t make assumptions regarding the data, we make analyses of the data; analyses that we do not necessarily posit to be infallible, but which work best with what we know.

So try to find assumptions. The age of the Earth? While this is built upon the pillar of an Old Universe cosmology, it does not assume an Old Earth. The better part is that it doesn’t assume a lot of science you seem to think we assume; do we assume carbon dating works? No, we match carbon dating to things that are easier to quantify. Things like tree rings. “Ah, but you assume that tree rings happen once per year! AHA!” Not necessarily, friend; we know that there are certain rare cases where tree rings form at different rates, but they are just that–rare. But even then, we don’t rely on tree rings; we also correlate those to ice layers. “AHA! But you assume ice layers form at regular rates!” I wish you’d stop interrupting me like that, reader, it is slowing us down. Ice layers don’t necessarily form at rates of one per year either, but even in cases where they form faster, we can tell which year they formed in.

“HOW YOU DO DAT?!”

Reader, I feel like you are getting petulant. Well, it should come as no surprise that temperatures are changing on the planet, even if you don’t believe humans are doing it, and with that (correlating data, not causal data) the CO2 levels are changing. The atmosphere plays a part in the composition of ice, the carbon levels in the ice, for example. So if five ice layers form in a year, but all have the exact (p<.001, we’ll say) same levels of carbon in them, we can infer that they happened in the same year. But we don’t rely on that, assume that, either.

What we have done, though, is tied these pieces of evidence into a giant circle. It is a piece of circular reasoning, of course; we know the age based on tree rings because that lines up with the age based on ice cores because that lines up with carbon dating because that lines up with coral deposits because that lines up with ice ages because that lines up with crust deposits moved by glaciation because those line up with tree rings. The YEC strategy seems to be to knock out one pillar, and assume the whole structure will come crashing down. But you know what? This calls for my trademark MSPaint skills.

SCIENCE!

SCIENCE!

They seem to believe that if they remove one element, it will all fall apart, but that is clearly not the case. If you remove one, or two, there are still one hundred pieces left, held up by the other 99 pieces that all paint the same picture.

We don’t make the assumption that these are all correct, but I will give you that we assume that at least one of the million pieces of the puzzle is correct. If one is correct, then we have an old earth.

The issue is that you only have one piece of the puzzle, upon which everything relies. If we prove that one piece wrong, that one single piece, what will you fall back on? Keep attacking our science with your arguments, that is OK; science gets stronger as we learn more, and if you find a true flaw science will grow stronger for repairing it.

The problem is for every discovery we make, there are fewer pieces of the Bible to lean on. The issue is your “rock solid” stance that the Bible should never change; as it crumbles below you, you stand firm, until the day it is gone and your world falls apart — and I believe that day will come.

If the foundations we build upon crumble, we either repair them or move. There have been thousands of theories and hypothesis that have been jettisoned for their incorrectness. There have been thousands of flaws pointed out that took brand new branches of math and science to fill. We could not describe the universe without calculus, and before calculus existed we did not understand — but instead of being satisfied that “God did it,” Isaac Newton discovered an entirely new form of math to describe the solar system, and new discoveries are made every day, hundreds of years later.

Isaac Newton didn’t have all the answers, though; famously, when considering the Solar System, he could not make the math work, and even that great mind said “Well, God did it!” But minds that followed, minds that stood on the shoulders of that giant, discovered greater shoots off of that great branch of science that allowed us to describe the universe better.

Do we know what happened to start the Big Bang? No. Do we know the physics of the Big Bang? No.

But we stand on the shoulders of the greatest minds in history, and we move closer to that knowledge every day. Your standing there, shouting “We have the answer, stop looking!” will put you on the wrong side of history.

Your religion may never put you on the wrong side of history, and I think it is incredibly important to mention that. Isaac Newton was a religious man, wildly so — he was an alchemist, and that turned out to be wildly incorrect (and probably shortened his life), but he is on the right side of history and science, while still being religious.

So take your religion in hand, because sitting down and screaming that you won’t believe science will make you look, in historical retrospect, exactly like a child throwing a tantrum in a public space.

You can believe as you wish, but stop making one thousand assumptions, then accusing science of making a single assumption. I think there was a Bible verse that said that exact thing in almost the same words. 

Slightly too Complicated for Children

More reading down the anti-science hole, I came across a blog post by Ken Ham (PBUH), prophet of the Young Earth Movement. I didn’t find it overly offensive for the most part, it mostly was just him reiterating the Young Earth Script–but eventually I came across a line that kind of caught my attention: “… Children can easily see that complicated life can’t be built up on the basis of mistakes…”  Yes, but can they see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?!

The reason that line jumped out at me is that it is so disingenuous it hurts, as though Ken Ham is trying to imply that all complicated science should be understood by children. I would argue this isn’t the case. An example, perhaps: Spacex is launching a rocket with a probe on it, and I am sure kids don’t understand the physics that go into that. You know what that means, right? It means God did it. God launched that rocket. The thousands upon thousands of man hours that went into it? NASA just made those man hours up. Kids could launch a rocket, if they just something something GOD.

Or how about the drastic oversimplification of the theory of evolution? I know how they do love to stand on the crutches of “Observational Science,” but there are some deep flaws in their idea of what constitutes this version of science that they themselves created. First, they seem to be of the mind that since we have never seen it, it can’t happen. Life from non-life? That’s crazy. Life from the word of the mouth of an eternal being? Totally a more viable solution. Again, though, the subtext is important; “We have the answer so YOU HAVE TO STOP LOOKING FOR AN ANSWER.”

They are right, we haven’t managed to create life in the lab yet. We don’t necessarily know how it started. But ignorance is both the best friend of science, and its worst enemy; ignorance lets us know where we have to look to find new knowledge, but it is also something to be eradicated over time. Science has been a powerful force for only 150 years; in the grand scheme of cosmic evolution, I would need to invoke a LOT of leading zeroes to give you the percentage of history that covers. Even in your 6000 year cosmology, we have only really been using science (as we’d understand it in the modern era) for only 2.5% of history, and you expect us to have all of the answers? And of course, if we admit even once that we don’t have the answer, you claim some sort of victory, as though the sum of all human discourse has all of the maturity and gravity of some middle school playground.

The funny thing, the thing that makes me laugh, is the petulance on display. If they would just sit back and let us “do science,” as the common parlance goes, maybe we’d discover that they were right all along. Obviously, I think that is (at best) very unlikely, but if they are so overwhelmingly confident, why do they act like they are being pushed around so badly? Theirs is the type of confidence (arrogance) that should be able to step aside, a knowing glint in their eye, as the children find all the answers on their own. Surely, with that level of confidence, they could trust that we would all arrive at their conclusion eventually.

And there’s the rub, there’s the whole thing, they know (deep in their hearts) that science is coming closer and closer, inexorably, from invalidating their world view. Of course, the confidence they have will not be pricked by evidence (that is already clear), and they will believe as they do in full opposition of irrefutable evidence. That’s ok, I just think it is ironically hilarious that I could so easily employ a simple word replace and make Romans 1:18-21 say exactly what is happening.

18 The wrath of [science] is being revealed from [humans] against all the [ignorance] of people, who suppress the truth by their [ignorance], 19 since what may be known about [science] is plain to them, because [humans have] made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world [science has] been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

You know what? I actually like that set of verses. I might actually print them off, because I think they say a lot about the human condition, our ability to stand by our beliefs in the face of evidence, of statistics, of physics, of history. I am not immune to it, though I do try to step back and validate my beliefs regularly. Like any human, I know I fail to recognize all of my failings, but dammit, I give it a strong effort.

Young Earth Creationists do not give an effort to find their failings, but that is not to take away from the fact that they put a huge amount of effort; the amount of man hours they put into creation science is stunning… And almost admirable. The only problem is that the only way they manage to keep their ship floating is through disingenuity. One major example is the formation of fossils and stalagmites; they have created it rapidly under a rigidly defined set of conditions, and reproduced that in the lab. They are right, of course, calcification can be a rapid process, in some conditions–you’d be hard pressed to disprove that. But then they make a huge leap; they have decided since it could happen quickly that it did happen quickly.

I think a far more egregious example is that of the discovery of dinosaur soft tissue. As soon as it was discovered, it was hailed as the final piece of the puzzle proving recent dinosaur life by young earth creationists. Why, how could you have soft tissue surviving for 65 million years? That is just absurd. And then scientists tried to explain it! THE GAUL OF THEM! Can’t they clearly see the answer? There is no process that could possibly make this happen, and even by looking the scientists are showing that they are stupidheads, and anti-religion, and scientifically ignorant!

Except in a short order, they discovered a function of high iron content that could have allowed this to happen. Quietly, the YECs stopped trumpeting that discovery, though it still has a place (as last I heard) in the Creation Museum in Kentucky, there to deceive the ignorant. Of course, that isn’t an insult; they are ignorant because people have a vested interest in keeping their blindfold on, and the fact that soft tissue is still in the Young Earth playbook, despite its having been explained by science, is proof of that.

So let’s stop pretending you are doing science. You are accusing scientists of viewing evidence with a presupposition of the age of the Universe, while you grab evidence, look at it through a magnifying glass that has mirrors and dials in it that read “6000 years old” then interpret that evidence accordingly.

The fewer mirrors you put in the way, the fewer assumptions you make about the evidence, the more you realize that 10,000 different threads in the weave of time paint a similar picture — and it is only through your smoke and mirrors, young earth creationist, that you are able to even create the illusion of a 6000 year old world.

So let’s not kid ourselves (heh… Kid) into saying evolution is silly because a child could say it is wrong. That’s not even an argument. That’s not even a thought.

Let’s all go back to the scientific lab of our choice, make as few assumptions as possible, and do some science.

There was an Audible Whoosh

I mentioned, cited, and wrote about this article in the blog post I threw up (pun intended) not even an hour ago… But the idea of it has actually wounded my head for the arrogance of it. The wound is festering, and I felt like I really, really needed to write more about it to relieve the pressure that was building behind my eyes. Oh, you think it can’t be that bad? If that thought passed through your brain, you obviously haven’t read it.

I have to commend the author for accidentally making one sentence ring true in that entire article, the idea that we assume the universe of tomorrow will function much as the universe today, which functions much like the universe of yesterday (unless you believe in young earth creationism, at which point the universe of yesterday doesn’t have to obey any rules except the ones that make your science convenient (I am sure the Hydrosphere sounds very plausible to you, in any case)). That being said, he states that the only reason we can assume that is because of Genesis 8:22. In that case, I am glad someone thought to write it down; why, if they didn’t, the universe would function much like the improbability drive in Hitchhiker’s Guide.

To even begin to accept this verse as binding, as laying the rules of the universe rather than following them, we have to presuppose that the Bible is true and correct. The Bible itself justifies this presupposition by telling the reader that it is true and inerrant, and obviously you can trust it because you presuppose it is true and correct because it tells you it is true and correct, which you believe because you presuppose it is true and correct. But science is not allowed to presuppose ANYTHING, only YECs are allowed to judge presuppositions. And don’t even get them started on the idea of no presuppositions, because even thinking about there being no presuppositions is an incorrect presupposition, and everything you say after they’ve decided that is totally incorrect.

I am sorry, but the author of the top linked article there is arrogant in a way that even many YECs would balk at. I mean, I understand that “I’m right and you’re wrong,” is the core doctrine they have in regards to science, but this guy… This guy. I haven’t been as frustrated at circular logic in a long time. I realize all logic is circular to a degree, but the wider your circle the less assumptions you have to make, and their … Well, I wish I could call it a circle, but since it only has two elements it is actually only a line. They don’t even get so far as to qualify as circular logic. Circular logic assumes much more thought than this idea that Genesis 8:22 laid out the rules of the universe, rather than just mentioned them.

Look, I understand that you feel persecuted, somehow, even though you are the majority religion of the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth. I just don’t understand how it is you can be so… Willfully blind towards the idea that you are allowed to presuppose, while any statement that a scientist makes that doesn’t come from the Bible counts as “out of bounds.” I don’t get it.

Do you know why science assumes that tomorrow will work like today? It isn’t just because it enables science to work, it is because without that science is pointless. The thing is, something akin to science predates your concept of your God. But here’s the other thing; if tomorrow the universe changes so that it functions on a new rule set, I can almost guarantee that we won’t survive to think about it. So here’s what we’re gonna do: we are gonna keep doing science as we have been, following the rules and laws we have been, until we either see this drastic change that you seem to think must happen without God, or until we get far enough that we can actually understand where the rules came from.

The problem is that so many YECs hate it when you call their God the “God of the Gaps,” then proudly say (as was said in this very article) that we don’t know where the rules came from, so obviously God did it. No, no, we shouldn’t search for where the rules came from, that is blasphemy; we should just trust an 8th century BC Jewish peasant to have gotten it right, because that is way more likely than science ever closing this gap. Way more likely indeed!

No, He isn’t a God of the Gaps, He just happens to fill this gap in our current science, and that is just the way we like it. No, stop looking for another explanation. STOP IT! STOPIT!STOPPPPPIIIITTTT! You are going to hell, science!

Augh, sorry, but this article drove me even crazier after I thought about it for a while than it did while I was reading it through. I just about exploded with all of these words inside of me. They would have come out of me somehow, no matter how badly I just wanted to stop thinking about how someone out there considers the logic presented in the linked article sound. That is not sound logic. That is not sound theory. That is probably not even a sound mind, or if it is a sound mind, it is at the very least a liar. No sound mind could think that up, then try to sell it to others as fact; that is the kind of thing someone hears, then passes off as fact so they can sound smart, so long as no one looks too closely.

Now give me a few minutes, I have to bleach that memory out of my brain. I am sure I can come up with some way to make that happen.