July 4th, 2008


50 reasons (NOT) to believe in god

#22 We are willing to believe in physically unseen waves that exist through the air, operating physical forces and appliances to work, yet not supernatural God forces being responsible for the same.

This is a really inane statement. I mean, the answer is right there in front of you. We can build appliances that reliably use those "unseen waves". We can replicate the results easily. We can control it and make it work for us in a predictable fashion.

God doesn't work that way. We can't duplicate a god's actions. We can't harnass its power in an appliance and make it work for us at a predictable time and place. We can't even make it work reliably through prayer or any other mechanism. Effects cannot be repeated if we claim they work the first time. What we are left with non-replicable events, unpredictable events.

Do you see the difference here? We understand the "unseen waves" because they work in a predictable fashion. We can't understand (or even know that it's really there at all) this "god" power. Indeed, if we could control it, it would cease to be supernatural, wouldn't it? You never hear anyone claiming that electricity or light is supernatural, do you?

When you define god in such a way that it is impossible to understand, impossible to replicate, and impossible to control, what you've done is define god right out of existence. Because he simply isn't needed to explain those "unseen waves" and he isn't nearly useful enough to even run an appliance. What then is the point?
machines think/do men?

Credulity and religion

I recently received a letter that I've included here in two PDFs. Letter page 1 and Letter page 2. There are several things about this letter that disturbs me.

Firstly, notice how these "medical screenings" are taking place at a church and not at a medical establishment? (There are two churches by the name of Discovery Church in the city, so I'm not sure which one.)

Secondly, notice how the letter, even before it says 'hello', it has grim statistics about deaths from heart attacks? It even admits that it's frightening. And notice the Christian code word: The "GOOD NEWS"? And how it's all bold and all caps?

Notice further how they talk about doctors not ordering these tests because the person isn't having symptoms? And then they go on to blame insurance companies for not paying for them?

This problem is that insurance companies won't pay for them, not necessarily because they are money-grubbing profiteers, because they do pay for tests like mammograms and colonoscopies which have been shown to prevent more diseases when they take place. Doctors don't order them, and insurance companies won't pay for tests without symptoms, because many tests have relatively high rates of false positives when there are no symptoms. And they generate more false positives than they catch genuine diseases.

And don't be fooled by all those letters after the name of the signator. They are essentially just certifications for operating the scanning equipment. They do not qualify her as a medical professional.

Some of the conditions they say they are looking for aren't terribly common:

AAA's [abdominal aortic aneurysms] affect 6-9% of men over 65 years of age. They are twice as common in men than in women.

Notice how there is nothing in this letter about when age becomes a risk factor? This was sent to someone nowhere close to being 65. (Truthfully, I'm about half that age.)

Just another example of false concern praying upon the gullible and credulous. And religion encourages them not to think critically or to ask the kinds of questions that prevent them from being taken advantage of.

And who do you think will be there to comfort them when they find out they're "sick"? Why the church of course!

50 reasons (NOT) to believe in god

[I'm procrastinating before leaving for a day. Don't know when I'll get back to this tomorrow, if at all, so I'm posting the next one now... and then maybe I'll give in and write a couple quizzes before I go. :(]

#24 Matter cannot organize itself. An uneaten tomato will not progress on its own accord to form a perfect pineapple. It will transform into mould, into disorganization. The laws of evolution fall flat.

Reading this list, it always amazes me how many misconceptions of evolution are buried in them. It's as if theists believe that if they can defeat evolution then all will be well, and the bible must be true! When nothing could be further from the truth. It is a false dichotomy that they have set up in their own minds, and it's really rather a shame. Evolution may refute the Old Testament version of the origin of the life, but it has no bearing on the question of whether or not there is some kind of generic god. Of course, it's that not-knowing that must scare them, because to admit that their bible doesn't tell them the truth about their god means that they don't really know anything about him... and how can they appease him if they are completely ignorant of what he wants. It is that illusion of control that they cling to.

However, one can hardly help but laugh... a tomato turning into a pineapple? I don't remember that part in my evolutionary biology textbook? Am I missing something??? :)

I should also point out that mould is not disorganization. Mould is alive, so it's just another form of organization, so her claim that a tomato becomes disorganized falls flat.

Implicit in this argument is a premise that evolution violates Newton's law of entropy, which is false, because the Earth is not a closed system.

As for the claim that matter cannot organize itself, the only part that really requires a god... I have seen no evidence for that claim. Quarks organize into protons and neutrons, and neutrons and protons, together with electrons organize into atoms, and atoms organize into molecules... I don't see any need for god in any of that. It's simply a basic consequences of the laws of physics (and chemistry when we get big enough). Certain kinds of well-constructed molecules keep organizing with energy input, and others are poorly constructed and they fall apart. No god is necessary.

I'm gonna be laughing about that tomato-pineapple transformation the whole weekend, though!

Bible: Genesis

[I'm reconstructing this from my Blackberry because it got stuck on analog reception, and it won't pick up the digital data connection until I reboot it... and I'm typing from the same Sprint digital connection my Blackberry uses, just on the computer. Of course, rebooting will destroy my whole post. There has to be a better way to do this than retyping it, but I haven't found it. I guess it does give me a chance to correct my atrocious thumb spelling...]

It's been a long time since I was in the car long enough to listen to the last giant tome of an audiobook leftover from last summer's audiobook extravaganza. It's 60 CDs, and I tried listening to it at my desk while I worked, but, in order to critique or comment on it, I just can't be thinking about other things while I listen... so the car is really the best place.

However, posting about it on the freeway could perhaps send me to my "maker" (the great big starfield in the sky?) sooner than I'd planned. :) Too bad, though.

Other sites will dissect the Bible in greater detail for contradictions or violations of physical laws or the historicity of the big picture events or the like, and I will leave that to them. I will just simply be posting my thoughts as I go, and there are likely to be bunches of posts, followed by long lulls, and then a flurry of posts again on the next trip.

I haven't gotten that far and already I'm struck by something, where god divides the waters and puts the firmament/heavens in between. I read/heard somewhere someone discussing how this claim violates the laws of physics, so if there was water up there it would come crashing down on our heads because water is heavier than air. But my take on this is to look at the "universe" as rotating, and then centrifugal force would keep the water on the outside with a kind of 0G vacuum in between, a.k.a. heaven. Of course, what this suggets is that there could be a whole other "world" up there. Hmmm... "evidence" in the Bible for extraterrestrial life!! What do ya know!?

Also, the passage where god talks about the animals being fruitful and multiplying in Genesis 1, he follows this by saying to fill the Earth. In context then, the same injunction could apply to people. We have filled up the Earth, so "be fruitful and multiply" no longer applies, yes?

I just love how the bible can be used to argue for just about anything, don't you? :)

If god is omnipotent, why does he need to rest?

Nevermind the two creation stories, he also gives two instructions about eating the plants of the Earth. in Genesis 1 humans are told they can eat anything, and then in Genesis 2 takes it back and says, well, everything but that tree. God gave the serpent its talking points. No wonder Eve was confused.

God-Adam-Eve-serpent: Nothing quite like the buck stops here, eh? Why should men be the leader of the family if they aren't prepared to act like a leader? He doesn't take responsibility for any of his family or even try to protect them.

And did not god himself precipitate the conflict the Cain and Abel by preferring the one to the other?

So Even had Cain and Abel, and then three generations of offspring were born before she had Seth? And people thought my grandmother was old having a child at 45.

The sons of god were attracted to the daughters of men? Who is this now? Who are the sons of god? Men? Angels? Daleks? And who are these giants and where did they come from??

If god destroyed everything he'd made except those things with Noah in the ark, why keep the "unclean" beasts? And how did he kill the fish and how did Noah keep them in the ark? And where did the olive branch come from if everything was destroyed?

Why does it seem like every time humanity tries to improve itself, god feels threatened and destroys the work and punishes humanity? Knowledge (Eve). Agriculture (Cain's sacrifice rejected.) Building. (Tower of Babel.) Explain why I should worship this tyrant again?

Abraham lied to pharaoh, but it was the pharaoh god punished. Makes sense... not!

Lot is what we're working on now. That notorious story doesn't need comment here. Others have done it better.