You know, it’s really frustrating going up against the “head-in-the-sand” mentality most religious-types have.
In all honesty, I don’t care what beliefs someone has, as long as they don’t infringe on my rights, which being lucky enough to be a citizen of a first world country, should be exactly the same as everyone else.
I think it’s just sad when someone will reject solid science because it doesn’t sit well with their “beliefs”.
It seems obvious to me – if your belief doesn’t gel with the science, then there’s probably something wrong with your belief.
I was listening to a couple of Christians discuss science over the weekend, which is always entertaining, but in this instance, it did get me thinking. The pair weren’t all that sure on any of the specifics, but the gist of it was this: it’s a miracle that we exist here in this little corner of the universe.
Now, I can’t say I’ve ever heard the term “miracle” thrown around in any scientific research I’ve ever read. What they probably should have said is that it’s a mathematical improbability we exist.
It reminds me of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, where the spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties. An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognized 67 miraculous healings in that time.
With no scientific evidence to back this up, I would say this spring water has the same healing power as a peanut butter sandwich. That’s a mathematical improbability I wouldn’t be betting my life on.
I digress. The point is that there are 100s of factors that had to be just right for life to develop on this planet: our proximity to the sun, the size of the planet, oxygen content of the atmosphere, liquid water, a ready supply of peanut butter sandwiches. So standing here on the surface of the Earth and looking up, it’s easy to believe there was a guiding hand in our creati… *ahem* I mean evolution.
However, if you look at the big picture, there are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the observable universe (approximately – if that were an exact number, I might have found myself batting for the other team as it were…) If you apply the 100s of factors to the planets orbiting these 1021 stars, it would be ludicrous to assume life has only appeared on our tiny planet.
In my humble opinion, the universe too big even for God to have created.
Once again, I found myself in a Science vs Religion argument with my unenlightened ex. We’d watched a recent BBC Horizon documentary entitled Is Everything We Know About The Universe Wrong. Science shows isn’t usually his preferred viewing, especially any kind of doco about how the universe was actually made, but for some (obvious) reason, she couldn’t wait to check this one out.
Quoting the scientists from the documentary: “Well, we’re just not sure what Dark Matter is, but we know it’s there” or “We had to invent Dark Energy to correct Cosmology’s standard model”. This started her rant on how scientists just make stuff up all the time.
I had an up-hill battle trying to explain that a scientific theory is not just a theory invented with no basis – it is created to reflect the many observations scientists have already made. In this case, Dark Energy or Dark Matter (or now, Dark Flow) is just an x in an equation that explains how everything else works. Atoms, for example, which we take for granted today, still cannot be seen with a microscope – they were explained by science over time until we get today’s theory which fits every instance.
Anyways, during an argument about the origin of the universe, I was asked “If the universe started with the Big Bang, what was there before that? Something had to cause the Big Bang!”
Correct, something had to cause the “Big Bang”. One possible theory being looking into at the moment is two colliding string-theory membranes.
However, a thought occured to me. “Well, if God created the universe, who created God?” I got some answer about God being an ultimate being, and he always was and always will be. “Well, why doesn’t that explanation hold true for my side of the story? Why does there have to be some supremely complex being who can create whole universes in 24 hours, rather than two fair less complex dimensions floating around in space-time who bump into one another, and the energy of that collision resulted in our universe?”
“Why? Because that’s just stupid!”
Anyways, this morning I find myself watching a Richard Dawkins documentary called The Root of All Evil? and he makes this point:
“Darwin’s great insight is that life evolved steadily and slowly, inching its way gradually over 4 billion years. Natural selection, not a divine designer, was the sculptor of life.
“So evolution, driven by Darwin’s motor of natural selection, gets us to [where we are today]. From primeval simplicity to ultimate complexity. The design hypothesis couldn’t even begin to do that because it raises and even bigger problem then it solves – who made the designer?
“The abundance and variety of life on earth may seem improbable, but it’s self evidently futile to invent an improbable God to explain that very improbability.”
I used to play on a Christian soccer team, not for any philosophical reasons obviously, but more out of convenience and availability, and boredom… I am no longer welcome on that team. But back then, I was involved in a friendly, post-game argument with the team captain over an after-game beer.
So you’ve all heard that the universe is only 6,000 years old, right? From Wikipedia:
Young Earth creationism is a form of creationism that asserts the Heavens, Earth, and all life were created by direct acts of the Abrahamic god during a relatively short period, sometime between c. 5,700 and 10,000 years ago. Its adherents are Christians and Jews who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, taking a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation myth as a basis for their beliefs., and include around 10-45% of American adults, depending on various polls. Some adherents hold that this view is supported by existing evidence in the natural world. Those adherents believe that the scientific evidence supporting evolution, geological uniformitarianism, or other theories which are contradictory to a literal interpretation of this creation myth, are either flawed or misinterpreted.
I suppose the discrepancy between 5,700 and 10,000 is held because we’re not sure whether they knocked up children back then, or waited until today’s legal age of consent.
Anyways, the stock standard argument when talking to Young Earth creationists resolves around the question “Explain dinosaurs?” I took this argument one step further.
“So God created the heavens and the Earth right? Like, he created the whole universe in one day? That’s pretty amazing! The universe is HUGE! Our galaxy alone has 200 billion other stars in it and the nearest star to Earth (besides the sun) is more than four light years away! That means, light from that star travels four years at the speed of light just to get to us. We’re seeing the star as it was four years ago… Amazing yeah?
“And our galaxy – with 200 billion stars in it – is 3,000 light years thick! And guess how wide it is? 90,000 light years. Man, that’s huge! Like, that means it takes light 90,000 years to travel from one side to the other.
“On top of that, the nearest galaxy to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy, which is more than 2 million light years away! Light travels 2 million years from there just to get to us. We’re seeing it as it was 2 million years ago!
“Oh wait – how old did you say the universe was?”
The point being, if God did create the entire universe 6,000 years ago (all the 200 billion stars in our galaxy, plus the more than 170 billion other galaxies in the observable universe), he would have also had to fill the void between those stars and us with a constant stream of light directed into our skies to make it appear like these objects were millions of years old. But, of course, they’re not, right? Like dinosaurs…
In fact, not only would he have had to create light waves between us and them, he would have had to stretch the waves, because when he did create the universe 6,000 years ago, he set everything in motion to make it appear like it expanded out from a single point about 13.75 billion years ago. But, of course, it didn’t, because it wasn’t around 13.75 billion years ago. The universe, with its more than 170 billion galaxies and its more than 9 billion trillion stars was created in 24 hours around 6,000 years ago.
Just like dinosaurs…
From a purely scientific point of view, atheists argue against the existence of God because there is no evidence to support such a being. It is simply the nature of “belief” – and the reason why religion is still rife in civilized society – that a belief does not require proof.
But Christians argue: “Does the Bible not count as a source of verifying the existence of God?”
First of all, you must note the origins of the Bible. The writings which were eventually gathered together and came to be known as “The Holy Bible” were written over a period of 1500 years by more than 40 different authors living on 3 different continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe). The Old Testament is a collection of books, written primarily in Hebrew, with some books written in Aramaic, between 1400 BCE and 400 BCE.; the New Testament is a collection of books, written in Greek, between 45 A.D. and 95 A.D.
While the text itself was penned by the hands of its various human authors, Christians claim its origin to be divine. In some books, God speaks directly with His people; in others, it is claimed that the written words were inspired by God, without directly intervening.
On top of that, because the printing press was not invented until 1440 A.D., which means every word of the Bible was hand-written by scribes, each copying a previously hand-written document. Archaeologists comparing documents side by side find innumerable errors.
The way I would put it, the Bible (like other such texts) is best described as testimony rather than evidence. It claims a lot, but doesn’t verify a thing.
As a collection of texts ostensibly written as non-fiction, the Bible counts as a set of historical sources. As evidence, however, it is circumstantial at best, and simply not at worst. It’s difficult to impossible to verify the realistic-sounding events, let alone the supernatural ones.
Look at it this way: Christian say outright that God exists because the Bible says what it says. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover, and I ask why? Why, after reading that book, do you believe God exists when I don’t? Most argue that the Bible is true because of what it says in the Bible. Logically, that does not make sense.
Religious belief is just that: a belief. The Bible is certainly a historical document, but it is certainly not evidence to the existence of God.