Arguments Against Atheism

Arguments Against Atheism: Kalam’s Cosmologically Illogical Argument

For last weeks Argument Against Atheism, click here.

For those who, like myself, have come from the theist world, you will probably have memories of using this argument in the past. I can remember many times when I would use the cosmological argument as proof for a creator thinking that it made sense and was logically sound. As my faith left and my beliefs began to wane I found that this argument is actually illogical and actually quite asinine.

The cosmological argument has long been used by theists and philosophers to explain the existence of the universe. In its most basic form it can be laid out as such:

1.) Something Exists
2.) Something must have caused that thing to exist
3.) Something exists that caused the other thing to exist.

Let’s put it in a simple logical form.

puppy1.) Puppies Exist
2.) Puppies must be born in order to exist.
3.) Therefore mother dogs must exist.

The basis of this argument seems logical but it has long been debunked due to the fact that whatever causes one thing to exist must also have a cause by itself. So the argument soon is destroyed when god enters the picture. If everything that exists must have a cause then for god to exist, he or she must have a cause as well, then the next being would also have to have a cause and so on and so forth.

So theologians have decided to change things up a bit.  The Kalam Cosmological if-you-cant-convince-them-confuse-them.pngargument is what is now often referred to whenever someone uses the cosmological argument, since it is seen as fixing the issues of the original one. People like, William Lane Craig, constantly refer to this argument during debates thinking that it is an improvement but we will see that this argument is just as faulty in its assumptions.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument can be explained in the following manner:

1.) Everything that has a beginning must have had a cause
2.) The universe had a beginning
3.) Therefore the universe had a cause.

The key word that is meant to fix the errors of the original argument is the word “beginning.” Since god is supposedly eternal and the universe is finite, god cannot exist within the universe and is therefore outside of it able to be the cause of creation. This is made known because then the supporters of this argument will add the following stipulations,

4.) Whatever caused the universe must be separate from it.
5.) Therefore god, who is separate from the universe, created the universe.

So for the first issue let’s talk about beginning. For things to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, you must have time. Time as we know it is really nothing more than motion from one moment in space to another moment in space. For time to exist you must have the vast expansion of space. So when everything in the universe was condensed prior to the big bang, what sense of time would there have been?

Secondly for something to have a cause then they must be able to initiate that cause. That would in essence mean a beginning to a beginning, which if something exists outside of time, such as god, it would have no capability of existing both within and without time. Therefore god could not initiate the cause anymore than it could initiate the thought of initiating the universe.

However the main idea that I want to discuss is the assumptions made in the argument. As finite beings, generally living less than a hundred years, how could we have any knowledge of something that infinitely exists. This might at first seem like a, Ken Ham, “were you there” argument, but if you give me just a second I think you will understand what I mean.

radiation

For this argument to work first we have to agree that the universe is finite and that it needed a cause to exist, then we must presuppose that god is eternal and capable of causing the universe to exist. In order to presuppose that god is eternal and capable, we must also presuppose that god exists. In order to presuppose that god exists we must also presuppose to have knowledge and evidence of this god character. We must then take the next step to state that the universe existing is the evidence of that god character.

What you end up with is circular reasoning at its finest. The argument itself actually becomes this…

1.) Everything that has a beginning must have had a cause
2.) God has no beginning
3.) The universe had a beginning
4.) God exists outside of the universe
5.) Therefore the universe was created by god.

For this argument to work we must add into it that god is eternal and that he or she exists outside of the universe.  We must also claim that we have knowledge of these two facts and the only knowledge that we have is to say that the universe is finite and thus an infinite being must have created it. While this might seem to fix the initial issue yet it actually is open to the same issues.

Let’s say our universe is finite, and god exists outside of it. What prevents us from saying that the area outside our universe, in which god exists, is also finite, and thus there must also be another god outside of that finite space in order to give creation to our god. We can then continue outward ad infinitum. The universe can become like one of those russian dolls where you take off one layer only to find a smaller layer.

So we should now see that the Kalam cosmological argument is no better than the original cosmological argument and is susceptible to the same issues. It does nothing to prove that god actually exists, or that god is eternal, or that god is infinite. It also does absolutely nothing to describe the nature of that god if it were to exist.

I always find it funny to hear theists use this argument in an effort to prove their god or gods existence. If this argument were actually sound, it would only point to a god, giving absolutely no indication which god it would point to. Aren’t all god’s eternal? Aren’t all god’s considered omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient to some degree? What from this argument would make Yahweh more likely than Krishna, Allah, or Cthulhu?

Next you would have to prove the aspects of your god which this argument does nothing toward. A cause does not equate to love, goodness, mercy, or justice. It does not equate to a god that created the universe with us in mind. In this scenario, perhaps we are nothing more than a mold that formed on god’s yogurt cup that he left in his dorm room closet. Maybe our entire universe sits on the rim of a cup that god has been too lazy to clean in 13.8 billion years of our time? Would the Kalam cosmological argument disprove this? It would not.

So in conclusion, the argument does absolutely nothing to solve the issues of the original cosmological argument. It does nothing towards proving the existence of a creator, especially not a loving one, or a Christian one. All it does is create its own assumptions and presuppositions in order to prove the speakers already held beliefs, and in that it is nothing more than a fallacy.

I hope I have done this justice, to hear another take from some folks who I believe are much smarter than I am, here are a couple of hosts from the Atheist Experience speaking on the topic…

 

While you are here, find out more about me by reading my journey away from faith, found here.

 

Strange Questions

Strange Questions #3: What Is The Source Of Atheist Morals?

For last weeks strange question, click here.

One of the primary attacks that Christians throw at atheists is that we have no source for absolute or objective morality. This is done for several reasons which are both dishonest and disingenuous in nature. I will go into the various reasons throughout this article. You’ll find that atheists actually have the upper hand in regards to morals than their theist objectors do.

The primary reason that Christians bring this up is that it’s true. Atheists really do have no grounds for absolute or objective morality. Yet you will find that Christians also have no grounds for absolute or objective morality either. What both groups have are a set of subjective moral traits that one side pretends to disguise behind false veil of absoluteness.  (I will refer to absolute or objective morality as simply objective morality for the remainder of this article.)

For objective morality to exist then these morals have to exist outside of the observer, meaning they exist outside of our own humanity. Since atheists do not believe in god, and the vast majority do not believe in anything supernatural, then the idea of a moral author existing outside of ourselves is asinine. Atheists are obviously fully capable of being moral and so Christians will state that this is because the objective morality reigns supreme, even in the hearts of atheists. But lets take a look at some of the Christians side of the argument before moving forward.

Many Christians will argue that morals come from one source alone, god, and without god there is absolutely no reason for moral behavior to exist. Even so, many of the Christians who will state this today espouse a morality that it even higher than the morality their supposed god granted them. What do I mean by this?

  • How many Christians do you know that have sold their daughters into slavery?
  • How many Christians do you know that own slaves?
  • How many Christians do you know that have burned a witch?
  • Stoned a homosexual?
  • Forced a rape victim to marry their rapist?
  • Committed Genocide?
  • Bashed the head of an unbelievers child against a rock?

If you have been able to answer any of these questions with 1 or more, I would suggest finding yourself another neighborhood to hang out in. The facts are clear, believers today no longer follow any of these archaic practices and yet their god was absolutely fine with them only a couple thousand years ago. By what authority are they able to find this better set of moral guidelines to live by outside of their own deities prescriptions?

Some Christians will state that everything I mentioned are from the old testament and thus are not to be followed today. They will state that the new testament reigns supreme and that it is a testament of love and compassion, but is this true? At first glance you might assume that they are correct. The new testament seems void of god’s murderous and vile tendencies, yet when you look a little deeper you find many of these things still ring true.

  • Slavery is still condoned
  • Women are still property
  • The unbeliever is still to be slaughtered, albeit at a much later date.
  • Even after being slaughtered, the unbeliever is condemned to Christs invention of Hell for all eternity

Even more chilling is the following scripture:

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18

Which seems to work perfectly well with this scripture from the old testament:

“And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.” – 2 Kings 17:37

So we have Christ saying that all of those evil laws are to be followed until the end of time and then we have a scripture from the old testament stating that the law and commandments are to be followed forever. Granted “Forever” is a bit longer than until heaven and earth pass away, but who’s really counting a few hundred billion years or so…

So why go into all of this on the theist side of things? I do it simply to point out that the vast majority of Christians today are far more moral than their god ever wanted them to be. They have risen above his statutes and laws and formed a faith that is far better than the one that even Christ laid out. Still harmful in many ways but far better than the moral teachings of their own scriptures.

So then to get back to the question at hand, What is the source of atheist morals?

The answer to this is chiefly evolution. Looking at the animal kingdom, lower forms of life; insects, fish, and reptiles have fairly low standards when it comes to morals. The lower the life form it seems that the less of what we would call morals can be seen. Yet even there we can see small forms. Insects, Fish, and reptiles will often times defend their nests prior to their offspring hatching. Putting their own lives at risk so that the next generation can survive. Once the offspring are hatched, sure, you might snack on one or two but the majority survive because of how well you defended them.

Then we reach birds, which care for their young not only as eggs but also as they grow in the nest. This takes much more energy than it does for the lower form, so mother and father bird often work together to help raise and feed the young. It’s crucial to have a good provider in this type of scenario and so many bird species mate for life or at least several breeding seasons, trusting that the other will do everything it can to protect and raise their offspring.

We then make out way to mammals and find that not only do we give birth, raise our young, but in many cases take care of these children for much longer still, until they are fully capable of existing in the world on their own. Family units spring up due to the huge amount of energy that must be spent in raising and gathering food for the young. Note: Just how close the family unit of prairie dogs are.

When we make it to the primates, we find that many of the things we call human are already found in our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Not only do primates care and raise their young as a group, but they also follow a strong social structure filled with social norms and guidelines for all of the members. They defend one another against attack and are even found to grieve dying members and help take care of the sick and injured.

We then find ourselves, the highest of the primate order and the only one that seems to associate their morality with a higher being. We are moral because society needs us to be moral for it to exist in any livable manner whatsoever. If everyone was killing each other than social bonds could not be found, life would be highly expensive in energy usage, and you would find the quality of our lives to be much worse. Note how our morality has increased as our lives have become easier with technology, I have no doubt that as we progress further we will find the morality of today to be archaic and cruel compared to what we see as moral 100 or 200 years in the future.

So what is the source of atheist morals? Our morals our found in our deep need to be social creatures living in a thriving society. We evolved these traits because they were the best features to ensure the survival of our offspring and the future of our species. Our morality isn’t objective because there is no outside force that has dictated these morals, however we might be able to make a case for semi-objective morality since our morals do seem to be written into our genes.

“The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine. I don’t want to do that. Right now, without any god, I don’t want to jump across this table and strangle you. I have no desire to strangle you. I have no desire to flip you over and rape you. You know what I mean?” – Penn Jillette

The best answer you can give when a theist asks something along these lines is to turn it around on them. Ask them if they truly would be a serial killer or a rapist if they found out tomorrow that god truly didn’t exist? Would they cut their neighbors throats for a bigger pool or a nicer car? Heck, ask them if they would be willing today to stone a homosexual or burn a witch?

If they answer yes to any of those questions, you are dealing with a psychopath and should probably leave as quickly as possible. If they answer no, then they too know that their morals are not granted by some all-powerful deity but are in fact the same as our morals and built upon the exact same foundation.

 

While you’re here, have you checked out my journey away from faith? It can be found here.

Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo #6:

For last week’s article: Wednesday Woo: Quantum Woo, click here.

“We’re human beings and the sun is the sun—how can it be bad for you? I don’t think anything that’s natural can be bad for you.” – Gwyneth Paltrow 

If you’ve spent any time on social media, I’m sure you’ve run into memes or videos exclaiming the various scary sounding rhetoric regarding chemicals, alongside their more “natural” cures and remedies at typically expensive prices. This anti-science campaign is a very strong one, offering so many different products and medical treatments that it’s difficult to debunk them before they can be spread to millions of people. In the New Age community this phenomenon is even more wide -spread, since the skeptical way of thinking is completely abandoned for a more science-y sounding appeal to nature they seem to crave. After all, the woo-world is all about connecting to a more purified sense of being. “Feeling depressed? That’s a choice,” they will say. “Go for a walk in the woods, and throw away your antidepressants!” Or eat more chocolate, which in all honesty, I wish were better for me, but alas! It’s just more wishful thinking woo.

David Wolfe: Chocolate is an octave of sun energy:

“An octave of the sun,” eh? Well what does that mean? Do you have evidence for this claim, David? To be honest, I don’t even know how to research such a claim, since it’s rhetorical nonsense and “energy-speak” is not even a real statement; merely GMO and gluten-free word salad with a side of magical thinking dressing.
Coincidentally, Mr. Guacamole also claims that Himalayan salt is just the bees-knees, containing “80 natural (as opposed to unnatural?) minerals.”
Salt Lamp
Wonder if the claims made by those hyping up the benefits of salt lamps are true.

At this point, the question may be asked, “what harm does me buying a salt lamp do me? It’s my choice how I deal with me and my family’s medical problems.” Other than spending money, nothing, that is, unless you opt for buying the salt lamp as opposed to getting on high blood pressure medication. Or, if you tend to fall for natural cures often, you may find yourself in the anti-vaxxer crowd, which puts everyone in danger, especially children and elderly with immune system issues. Thanks for the public safety risks, Andrew Wakefield. 

Those who attempted to replicate Andrew Wakefield’s study could not, and he is no longer licensed to practice medicine because of the fraud he spread world-wide.
There are even unfounded claims that too many vaccines at once bombard immune system of children.  While this idea that we are giving our children many more vaccines than we used to may sound slightly reasonable, once you research the issue with a skeptical eye, you can see there is no foundation for worry.  Of course, tell that to Jenny McCarthy

Now for more “toxin” nonsense. Apparently, we are all metal-heads, whether we listen to Metallica or not:
Flouride
Whatever you say, William Douglass. 
So if aluminum is so terrible, what’s the alternative? Of course there’s loads of “natural” products that are very expensive. Funny that from those who claim “big pharma” is only out to make money are the same ones hyping up the danger of chemicals in an effort to sell something. Hmm…
But what does the evidence say?

Is there any proof? Turns out, not so much….
As I said before, the myths about medical conditions and their causes spread much faster than we can debunk. 

There’s metals in our cereal!
Cereal
How much do you need? Are these fortified cereals safe?

http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Iron-Fortified-Cereal.html

I’ve seen a lot of videos shared on Facebook where the iron-cereal scare is demonstrated using an experiment many of us did as children. Iron is something we require as a part of our diet, and is not a scary product.

Another cereal scare.
Cereal 2

But the amounts of BHT in these foods are concluded as safe for consumption.  Some scary sounding products are used in trace amounts in many different things. It’s the levels that are toxic. Water can even be labeled to sound toxic, and yes in large amounts, it can kill you.

H2O

Conspiracy theorists like Alex jones and his fake doctor claim a fungus that has “over 100 symptoms” is causing mayhem across the world. Of course, then they offer you the cure, right?  Wonder what Alex Jone’s net worth is…

Remember the Gwyneth quote about the sun being natural? Here’s her alternative sunscreen.

Goop

How about her net worth?  No doubt she’s worth quite a bit when offering sunscreen at $16 for 0.6 oz. She even has people steaming their vaginas.
The examples I could offer of these trendy, outrageous natural cures and claims are endless. Why is there such a tidal wave of pseudoscience spread on social media? Simply put, because it’s easier to hit “share” without doing the research. Many folks of course, say they have researched issues, but typically their sources fail the sniff test.

So how can we be sure that the stuff shared on social media is legitimate or not?
1) The claim has to have evidence.
2) Must have undergone peer review.
3) Sources must not have bias.
4) Must use definitions properly.
5) Cannot be logically fallacious. (Example: an appeal to nature fallacy.)

Be mindful of the signs of pseudoscience.

An Aspie In Iowa

An Aspie In Iowa #1: Small Talk, Gossip, and Directions

First off, I want to say that my experience with Autism is going to be different from another person’s experience. It has been said, “If you meet one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism. Due to being a spectrum disorder, people with autism can display many different traits.

I have been diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism, what used to be known as Asperger’s Syndrome. What this means is that most of my autistic traits are unseen, at least for the most part, having more to do with the way I think and perceive the world. So while this is the story of my own experience, I won’t be able to give much information on other forms of Autism, such at low or mid functioning. My nephew is mid-functioning and while we share certain traits, much of our own personal experiences will be different throughout life.

Anyway….

I wanted to start this series out right with something that has caused me a huge amount of stress and exhaustion over the years. Small Talk is something that makes absolutely no sense to me and so I am absolutely awful at it. It has always seemed that small talk is simply a means to eliminate silence and in that it seems really weird. Is silence horrific to neurotypical people?

If you were to engage me in small talk I will spend the majority of the time trying to get out of the conversation. This is for multiple reasons but mainly the following three points:

1.) It annoys me
2.) I see no point in it
3.) I fear saying the wrong thing in these moments.

This might come as a shock but I could not care less about the weather, that new recipe for chicken tacos, or the pro’s and con’s of the various types of butter you can use to make cookies. Part of this comes from the fact that I have no idea where this style of conversation is supposed to go. Usually my response will be something along the lines of, “yep…”

Seriously though, think about it. You’re sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting for your appointment. Someone walks in and sees you sitting there. They sit down and you both are silent. Then after a few minutes they speak up and say, “Boy it’s hot out there isn’t it?”

My response…”Yep…”

Is this conversation supposed to go somewhere? Am I supposed to then tell you that I’m there to have an infected toenail looked at? Should I show you the toenail? Do I ask you if you are there to be checked into psychiatric care due to fearing silence so badly that you engaged me in this conversation?

Chris Pratt

I have found that my initial response almost always leads to them looking at me like I am supposed to continue and ask them something back but who the fuck knows what. The only thing going on in my mind is this…

“Please shut up, please shut up, please shut up….I don’t want to talk to you, I don’t want to talk to you, I don’t want to talk to you…”

Another horrible experience for me is when checking out at a store. When I go to the store, I get what I need and I try to get out as quickly as possible. Over time I learn which cashiers are the fastest and I attempt to go through their aisles. Sometimes though this option is not available and I am placed in a checkout with someone who wants to make comments about everything I am trying to purchase.

“Oh, is this butter good?” They might ask.

“It’s butter.” I would reply

“I usually use this brand, have you tried it?” They ask.

“No, this is cheaper and it’s the same butter I have bought for the last 10 years.”

“You ought to try this brand.” They reply

“I’m good.” I say

“Ok….OH! Is this brand of bread good?”

By the end of experiences like this my brain is swimming in stress and I am completely exhausted. The reason being is that my mind is pushing me to an outburst. As the stress level rises, the lights around me get brighter, the noises become louder, and the voices around me become less distinct. My skin might begin to itch and I often break out in hives simply from the fact that I am stressed out. I will begin to notice the temperature in the room as it seems to rise and I feel a need to scream build up in my body.

At one point in life I would have just blown up. Emotional outbursts were a regular occurrence for me growing up and even though they might initially make me feel better, I would do or say things that I would regret later. During sensory overload I can say some of the most wicked and awful things without ever realizing that they have exited my mouth. So holding back these urges is absolutely exhausting.

By the time I get home from the store I sit down and often times don’t move for several hours after that. Letting my mind calm and slow down the sensory information that I am receiving. It should come as no surprise then that I attempt to the best of my ability to keep away from small talk.

Gossip on the other hand is both interesting and annoying. When I was younger I would have people tell me things about other people and then moments later I’d watch as those people acted as if they were the best of friends. You would never see me do anything like this. In fact I got in a lot of trouble as a kid for saying things like, “I thought you just said she was a bitch?”

Gossip is interesting because people seem to think that since I am quiet they can just come up to me and tell me anything and no one will ever hear about it. The problem is my perception of people is often times shaped by how other people speak about them. My mind is incredibly literal and so if I am told that someone is  crook, I will think, “oh, this person might try to rob me, and act strangely around that person.

The other thing about gossip is that it is almost never actually true. Many times throughout life I have had person A come up to me and say one thing about person B , then have person B come up and say the exact same thing about person A. Now obviously they both can’t be right but why does this type of accusatory talk feel so good to neurotypical people? It makes no sense to me.

The last thing that I want to talk about today is directions. If you are ever told to get directions from me, or to give directions to me, we are both going to end up confused. The way I plan things out is totally different from the way that others plan things out. Both of us might be headed toward the same goal but my mind often times goes about it in a very different way.

Example of giving me instructions:

When I was in high school the teacher gave us a writing assignment. She stated that the essay was to be 10 pages long, double spaced. I had absolutely no idea what double spaced meant at the time yet my brain interpreted this to mean a 10 page paper with two spaces in between each word. I remember turning in my paper thinking I had done a decent job only to have the teacher laugh at me. When you think about it though, I had probably written about twice as much as any other student there but instead I was ridiculed and made to feel inferior for the simple mistake I had made.

Directions

Example of me giving someone else instructions:

So in my job I used a lot of computer programs. I am able to use this with a lot of speed and navigate through the menus without any difficulty. So when I am told to explain to another person how to do something, I often leave out a lot of information that the person might need to know.

Say I am told to explain how to make certain reports. I might explain it by saying, click reports, enter in dates, and pull the report you want it to create. When they come back to me and wonder why they can’t pull a certain report, I realize there are maybe 5-10 steps that you have to do before being able to even access the reports. By that time they are upset because they think I think they are stupid, or that I am trying to make them fail by explaining it badly. Nothing could be further from the truth, I literally just don’t consider those small steps that must be done since I am so used to just doing those, its second nature to me and in my mind it should be to them as well.

Anyway, I hope I have done these things justice and maybe you understand a bit more about me than you did before. There is much more topics that I will go into during coming weeks, months and years. Thank you for reading!

 

An Aspie In Iowa

An Aspie In Iowa #0: Overview

If you read the Epilogue to my journey, you will know that I have been diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism. This series of articles will be based around some of the issues, challenges, and triumphs that I have had throughout my life. I am still adjusting to the fact that I have autism, having suspected it for quite some time, getting the diagnosis was a pretty major experience in my life.

So these articles will take a step away from the main theme of the blog and talk about other aspects of my life that I find important. I hope you will enjoy them.

Extra-Biblical Teachings

Extra-Biblical Teachings #1: Christian Free-Will

Today marks the start of a new set of series based on things that are not explicitly stated within the bible but are still taught within the majority of Christian churches.  The subject today is one that might spark a lot of controversy depending on what side of the argument that you find yourself on. I will be dealing specifically with the Christian idea of Free-Will but the implications reach into any of the various forms that this idea might take.

“A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.”
― Sam Harris, Free Will

If you have read my article on the Garden of Eden, then you will know that one of the central themes of this story is that Adam and Eve chose to sin. This might not seem like much of a controversy, however, they were perfect beings created in a perfect world. Being perfect would mean that they have perfect decision-making capabilities, with that capability it is hard to believe that they would make the wrong choice. Here enters free-will.

It is taught that god didn’t want humans to simply be a bunch of sycophants, simply worshiping him because that is how they are programmed, but choosing to worship him because they love him. So god gave man free-will so that they would choose to worship him and instead they chose to rebel, bringing about all of the evils that this world now faces. God supposedly doesn’t interfere with free-will, even though he does numerous times throughout the bible, and thus we are in control of the horrible things that befall mankind. This seems, at face value to be an okay argument but when we look a bit deeper, it falls apart.

For one, did god ask humanity if they even wanted free-will? It would seem that by inserting free-will into our minds, god has done the ultimate in interference, creating a system that was bound to fail. If he truly didn’t want man to sin, then wouldn’t a toned down version of free-will have been far better. When you train a dog, and it messes up, you don’t burn the dog, yet this is what we are to believe that god does if we disobey him.

Secondly, for free-will to be truly given then all the information about its use should have also been given. God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree, they would die. Instead they didn’t die but their lives were cursed to be gawd awful for the nearly thousand years that they were supposedly alive. You really cannot describe a perfect creator if his creation is built without the knowledge of what rebelling would do to them. Imagine a computer programmer stating that he created the perfect word processor, yet when used it could choose to delete everything you had written. I doubt if anyone would consider that programmer to be very good at his job if his program did something completely outside the needs of a word processor.

Third, if god created us with free-will so that we could earnestly choose to follow him, then why would that god then create punishment for those that chose not to?  That removes the justification for free-will entirely, since if we must choose to follow one path, then it isn’t truly a choice. Those that choose to follow that path are simply doing so for fear of punishment and are in essence the sycophants that god supposedly wanted to avoid.

For free-will to truly be used in the means that it was originally intended, according to the church, then there can be no punishment or incentive for making the choice god wants us to make.  No parent would want a child that only behaves because they expect a cookie every time they do something good, yet that is exactly the type of believer that god wants us to be, always considering the reward or the punishment and basing all of our decisions upon those ends.

Personally, I don’t believe in free-will, be that christian or otherwise. As Sam Harris states in his book, Free Will:

“You can do what you decide to do — but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.”

We are animals made up of genes, these genes control many of our likes and dislikes, environment also plays a large role in our lives. I was born in Iowa, I love the look of cornfields in the fall, the wind passing through the field causes it to wave in an absolutely beautiful way, at least to me. Did I decide at any moment in my life that this was beautiful and pleasing to me? No. I was also born to christian parents which meant that for the vast majority of my life, I followed the christian faith. I cannot think of any moment where I was asked whether I wanted to follow the christian faith or not?

Free-will is really nothing more than a justification for certain things in the bible that make no sense whatsoever if you remove this belief. Even more bothersome is the fact that free-will is used as a scapegoat for god in the paradox of suffering. The only way that an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present being can exist in a world which suffers is if you inject the idea of free-will and man being the cause of it all. As stated before this is because god supposedly doesn’t interfere with freewill, yet here are a few examples of when god did exactly that…

1.) Adam and Eve are thrown from the garden (Genesis 3)
2.) Lot’s wife is turned to salt for looking back at her home.(Genesis 19)
3.) The flood kills nearly all of mankind, simply because humans were using their free-will. (Genesis 6-8)
4.) God confuses the language of the workers at the tower of babel simply for building a damn tower. (Genesis 11)
5.) Jonah doesn’t want to go to Nineveh so god sends a fish to swallow him until he relents and goes. (Jonah 1)
6.) God kills the shade tree, which Jonah is sitting under, so that Jonah is even more miserable after god doesn’t destroy Nineveh. (Jonah 4)
7.) God hardens the heart of Pharaoh ten times, and then forces his hand by killing all the first-born kids in Egypt. (How’s that for pro-life) (Exodus 9)
8.) God hardens Saul’s heart towards David. (1 Samuel 19)
9.) God murder all of the folks in a single town simply because two men touched the ark. (1 Samuel 6)
10.) God blinds Paul in order to force him to believe in Christ. (Acts 9)

This is not even close to an exhaustive list, which is why some Christian faiths have chosen to disregard the idea of free-will altogether. Calvinists, for example, believe that everyone born is predetermined to be saved or damned. Nothing we do can change that choice, meaning that Hitler might be lucky enough to enter heaven, but little Timmy that got hit by a car at 5 years old, just might be in hell. Some will add to this the idea that people who do not end up in heaven, where the saints will worship god forever and ever, are simply extinguished when they die.  To be honest, if this were the case, I think I would rather not be one of those saints headed to, as Christopher Hitchens called “a celestial dictatorship.”

Lastly, let’s talk a bit about miracles. For miracles to exist, then god must have no problem with interfering with free-will. A miracle is a supernatural event that cannot otherwise be explained by science and reason. Yet, the christian faith is filled with tales of miracles. Just remember, every time god cures a person of cancer or rescues you from an accident, he had destroyed the boundary of free-will and made changes to your life which should otherwise not have occurred. God supposedly giving you 30 more years of life after a miracle cure, is simply 30 more years that you weren’t granted according to your own free-will. This also includes every time god answers a prayer.

So to summarize, Free-will is a scapegoat, a means to explain some of the more ridiculous notions of the bible.  It is used to explain why suffering exists, because god will not interfere with it, and yet just by using the bible we can see that he almost constantly messes with free-will in one way or another. Free-will is such a contentious topic that some christian faiths have thrown it out altogether, leading to an even darker and less loving version of god. To put it bluntly, free-will is an excuse and a shitty one at that.

If you have the time, here is a video of Sam Harris explaining his stance on free-will. He is much smarter than I and I will admit, when I first read his book my mind was completely blown away just thinking about it.

 

A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study

A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study: The Garden Of Eden

So just to let everyone know, this study will not be a verse by verse exposition style study of the bible. I wouldn’t want to bore you with that. What this series of articles will be is an explanation of how these stories were described to me, as well as how I taught it during my time as a minister. Within various Pentecostal denominations, the stories of the bible can be taught in many different ways. Some churches choose to teach them exactly as they are written, others teach the stories as allegories, while still others add their own strange spin. I will try to describe all of these as best as I can.


If you would like to follow along, this article deals with chapters 1-3 of Genesis.

playdoh

Chapter 1: Let’s Make Some Shit!

So the book of genesis begins with the creation story, first god moves over the face of the waters seeing that the earth is formless. So he decides to do something about that…Now some will ask, how did he just happen to come across this giant water planet, well that is explained by how you view the first verse of this chapter.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

So if you are a biblical literalist, you read this scripture as god created the earth and then he moved over it. If you are an allegorist you teach that this was billions of years after the big bang and so the earth had cooled and was covered in water. Either way the earth is already made when god begins his real creation work.

So to give a synopsis of creation.

Day 1: Light
Day 2: The Firmament (We live in a giant dome…)
Day 3: Dry Land and plants
Day 4:  Two big light bulbs, the sun and the moon.
Day 5:  Fish and Birds
Day 6: All the animals and humankind

Now a few things to note from this first chapter. Light is created before the sun, the moon, and the stars. That’s pretty damn impressive isn’t it? I mean, if it were me, I’d probably have to create nuclear fission prior to any light being shone, but hey, I’m not god….am I? Secondly, god explicitly creates a firmament, no question about it, we live in a giant dome with water below it and water above it. No wonder people can’t breathe in space, it’s all water.

You might also note that plants are created before their ability to grow is, plants require sunlight to grow and so you’d think they would need the sun to be created, but once again, I’m not god and I wasn’t there, so who knows how plants grew 6,000 years ago. I mean maybe they didn’t require any light to grow back then, who knows….

So if you aren’t a literalist, you basically consider the first 2 days to be billions of years. Everything else you explain as a biblical description of evolution, however this is a poor way of describing it. Notice that fish and birds are created on the same day? Does evolution even come close to describing fish evolving into birds? Of course not. Secondly, no one who has studied evolution would state that the sun came after plant life. That’s simply ridiculous.

eve.jpg

Chapter 2: Beastiality and Boobies!

Chapter 2 begins with god taking a nap. Omnipotent beings are still incredibly lazy and they need their beauty sleep. It then goes on to give us a summary of the information that we just read, in case we weren’t paying attention the first time. Strangely though this creation story is decidedly different from the first one.

In chapter two we have god creating just one dude, Adam. He takes some dust, makes Adam and then breathes life into him. This forms the basis of the belief that man has a soul and animals do not, god breathed a soul into man but just spoke animals into existence. God then walks Adam through the garden of Eden, showing him all the cool shit he just made. Adam is told that he can eat any fruit from any tree, except one, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, this is god’s special tree and he doesn’t like it when people touch his shit. I heard he hides his weed in the trunk.

After a while, God sees that he forgot to make something for Adam to stick his peepee into, so he creates all the animals and brings them to Adam.  Note in the first chapter that these were created before man, but hey, who is paying attention. Adam isn’t into beastial pleasures, but he does at least name everything, before getting bored and lonely again.

So god puts Adam to sleep, takes a rib out of his chest, and forms a woman. Why Adam’s rib had two X chromosomes instead of one X and one Y, we will never know? Adam wakes up and is like, “Holy Shit, Boobies!” They are both naked and not ashamed of being naked.

sanjayandcraig.jpg

Chapter 3: Walkin and Talkin Snakes

Chapter three begins with a snake talking to eve, just having a chat, it never states that this is odd to Eve, so we must assume that animals could talk back then. So the snake says to Eve, “Hey, God’s a fuckin liar, you know that tree where he stores his weed, that shit is fucking delicious and it makes you smart. You eat that shit and you’ll be like God.” Eve says, “God told us we would die if we ate it.” The serpent then asks, “Do you know what death is? It means get smart, duh…”

So Eve eats the fruit and then gives it to Adam. Adam was having a rough day and really didn’t want to get into an argument with his new spouse so he goes ahead and eats it. They then look at each other and realize they are naked, “OH NO!.” No reason is given why being naked would be considered a bad thing as it was how they were created but anyway they take some leaves and get a bit more modest.

God shows up and says, “Hey, Adam and Eve, where the fuck are you guys? I’m Omniscient but my dealer gave me some really strong shit which is messing with my perception. Come on guys, where the fuck are you?”

Adam and Eve come out and say, “Hey, just noticed we’re naked and so yeah….we didn’t want you to see our naughty bits.”

God, still not come down from his high asks, “Who told you that you were naked?

Eve blames the serpent, Adam blames Eve, and the serpent is just like, “What the fuck are you gon do about it?”

God gets pissed, curses the serpent to crawl on its belly and eat dirt. 

God curses Eve by making her menstruate and have painful childbirth.
God curses Adam by making him work hard for his living.
God even curses the earth, why? Because Reasons.

He then kicks them out of the garden to prevent them from eating from the tree that would give them immortality, because god is scared of losing his status. He places a flaming sword and some angels at the gate of the garden, just to prevent them from sneaking back in.


strange2.jpg

The Strange

Now, having spent a good deal of time in the Pentecostal church, I’d like to describe some of the weirder beliefs about Adam and Eve’s time in the garden.

1.) Adam And Eve Were Beings of Light

Some teach that Adam and Eve didn’t actually have a physical form prior to eating of the fruit. This is to explain why, when they eat the fruit, they are ashamed of their physical forms. Adam and Eve were also sexless beings that, like angels, lack sex organs and butt-holes. Only when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit did their bodies take on a physical form and their sex organs developed. The first fart must have really freaked them out.

2.) The Serpent Was Another Woman Who Gave Eve Her First Orgasm

This stems from a Jewish tale of Adams first wife, Lilith. She wanted to have an equal say in everything, especially in sexual positions, and so god banished her from the garden. She is then said to have given birth to all the evil that exists in the world. It was even taught at one point that she was the cause of wet dreams. Anyway, she returns to the garden and shows Eve her cunning lingual ways, which opens Eve’s eyes to sexual pleasure. Eve then takes this knowledge and blows Adams mind. Thus they understand the mind expanding abilities of orgasms and god gets pissed off.

3.) The Fruit Of The Tree Was Sodomy

So in this interpretation the serpent is more human than animal and teaches Eve the joys of butt sex. Eve then teaches this to Adam, and they feel the shame of the sin of sodomy.  So it wasn’t Adam and Steve, it was Adam and Eve and butt-sex snake dude.  To be perfectly honest, I have absolutely no idea where this idea came from. I only know about it because this is how my grandfather taught it as well as how I have heard several other ministers teach it over the years.

If you’ve taken anything away from this it is that sex is evil, in order to make that fact a truth, the story is interpreted in a way to include way more sex.


bible.jpg

How I Taught It

To be completely honest, I rarely taught about the creation story.  As a child I had been a bit of a young earth creationist, but by the time I became a minister I viewed the book of Genesis as decidedly unimportant to the Christian faith, especially the first three chapters. When I did speak on the topic I would say that the only message we really need to take away from it is this.

1.) God created the world as perfect
2.) Humans chose to sin
3.) Humanity fell due to that sin

Looking back I see that this is still incredibly simplistic. If god created us as perfect then how could we do anything that would be considered as sinful? Why would humanity’s ability to choose to go against something god has said be considered sinful? How could humanity even know what sin was if they had been created in a sinless world?  If they had never experienced immorality, how could they even have an idea of what immorality was or what it might do? Why did god lie about what would happen if they ate from the tree? I mean personally if he had said, if you eat from this tree, your women will bleed and be in pain, both monthly as well as during childbirth, and your men will have to really work hard to survive. Maybe then I might steer clear of the tree.

Basically though, this creation story is one of the more basic stories of the ancient world. God simply speaks things into being and they exist. It’s a silly story and one that causes a huge amount of contention in the church today. If this creation story hadn’t been included, would evolution be an issue? Would Christianity have such issues with science? I don’t think they would, but they do and it’s foundation is built upon this strange, strange, story.