The Skeptic's Guide to The Universe

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chapter Five; HOW DOES THIS GOD THING WORK? part fourteen

It is typical for many Christians to use common key verses from the Bible to support their view of the world. Many verses are heard regularly in their church. Some key verses are repeated to enhance the adherence of those that follow the denomination. Depending on the focus of the church, different verses are emphasized. My experience has shown that many adherents do not read their Bible or study their religion, more than the hour per week they are in the church building. They do not realize, step by step, their defense is shored up by their lack of knowledge in the faith they adhere to and their failure to investigate their own religion and dogma. In a way, this is useful. If an adherent is presented factual information about the Bible or other religious books, (s)he may be more likely to come out of that faith and into the rational world. [I wouldn't hold my breath on that , though.] When I was a child and looked at older people, I thought they must be smart. The older people around me seemed smart. The truth is most older people just get older and rarely gain in intelligence. Quite the opposite happens to be honest. Seniors begin to view knowledge with contempt and suspicion. This is how most older people in the church behave. They view the youth with contempt, unless they adhere to preconceived views. This is one of the main motivations for getting the Hell scared out of children and having them convert at a young age. If you can get the kids to believe the impossible then they will have a better chance to believe the total package of dogma that goes along with it.
Most followers would not even know what book in the Bible verses were from or the context they are written in. I contend that facing a believer on their home turf is not for every skeptic. Not that I am advocating that , but, we do live in a nation and world full of adherents. In my experience, all non-believers I have met or heard study the Bible and know the Bible better than most devout adherents. Not only is it a difficult task to take on, it is much harder than one would think. It would seem, the adherents would be hell bent to tell non-believers all about the advantages of their belief. Many of the beliefs that I have accepted, would not let a person stand down from one that was asking about the lessons of the others faith. It was a requirement of my religion.
It is easy enough to use god for any answer that you don't have an solution for. But, as a god is made, the answer to questions become increasingly more complex. You can rely upon scared text, but the support the text has in itself need to have evidence to prove it’s sacred text or it is only self affirming. If it is self affirming, then it relies upon a closed system of faith.
I have been face to face with pastors that told me I am free to visit their church , but not to disrupt their class, because I wouldn't accept their text. They either didn't know their own religion well enough or didn't trust that their adherents, [income source], could not defend what they believe.

The sign of the cross of The First Baptist Church of Moore was destroyed from a category five tornado that hit Moore, OK, on May 3, 2000. Many homes, businesses, and lives were destroyed from the massive winds that swept through the southern and eastern part of The Oklahoma City metro area. Prayers were offered by survivors in the resulting news coverage that resulted. Many people thanked God for saving their life even though the homes were destroyed. Not a single believer in God, on the news coverage, said that God should have stopped the tornado or put it in an area that wouldn't have caused so much destruction. This metal sign became a symbol of that particular disaster.

In the ancient times and even up into the Enlightenment, people often used God as the answer for what they didn't understand about the natural world. The “hand of God” was often assigned to such phenomena as storms, earthquakes, plagues, sickness, volcanic eruptions and other natural occurrences. As man discovered more about the world we live in and the Universe around us, he learned that a giant turtle doesn't hold the Earth. He learned that the Sun doesn't rotate around the Earth. He learned that a great god out at sea does not cause the tides to surge forth on the shores.
We have learned that the stars are not placed upon crystal spheres in the sky. On and on, at the time “God” was given as an explanation, rather than cause and effect. The universe grew, God shrank, and God became more ambiguous.
As man found answers to some of these questions, the power of God as the answer, lost merit, even stories based in “sacred” writings. As man discovers more about the natural world, believers are forced to make God even more abstract and unknowable than their predecessors. Some adherents to the young Earth concept, say, the naturally occurring phenomenon, like fossils, erosion, corrosion spectrometry, glacial movements, plate tectonics and other natural time indicators, are placed in a state that indicates a “false” long history. Furthermore, the methods used to determine the ages are either misinterpreted or bias toward old ages.
Some intelligent design answers , to fossil placement, are that God put them in place. Another is that the processes used to determine the ages is inconclusive or wrong. I have heard both. It is interesting that they will use one or the other, depending on what the particular ID supporter is talking about. It is amazing that experimentation and the scientific method must hold up to scrutiny and testing, by other scientist in the field, to be accepted. However, with ID there is no such method to verify concepts. Almost no original research is done in the ID community. It is speculated that they read the work of researchers, searching for holes or ways to support their point of view of a short age Earth.
On March 26, 2009 , I went to a Evolution vs. Creationism debate in Yukon, Oklahoma with Dr. Charles Jackson, Creation Truth and Abbie Smith, Researcher at Oklahoma University, HIV research.
Miss Smith asked Dr. Jackson if he had first hand or original research. After several stammering and stops, he admitted that he didn't. Miss Smith confirmed, she does first hand research , with her results checked by other scientists, for validity. This shows direct contrast of actual science versus the ID supporters.
I admit , that people who study ID know the scientific terminology and jargon. This certainly helps to sound more reasonable to a layman adherent. I have reviewed Michael Behe's books and find them quite impressive. He is very detailed in his presentation of inconceivable ideas. However, when addressing the scientific community, the weakness in their arguments is evident. To be honest, it is not much different than a pastor using the Bible to develop a sermon. All a pastor needs to do to improve his sermon, is to add a few key verses, i.e. “ No weapon formed against us will proper” or “If God is for us who can be against us”. He need not bother to follow any theology or internal logic. He can yell or speak loudly, and for good measure, provide an alter call.
Even with a god that is all powerful , all knowing and all loving, there must be mechanisms in place for the actions of that god to manifest themselves in reality. Doing something in an immaterial world has no effect in the natural world without a means to use natural reason to bring it into being. After all, the immaterial world doesn't exist. I would say that our imagination is more real than the things of the supernatural world. At least the things I imagine can to some degree become real. There are ways to to do that. However, to do this feat from the immaterial world, I need an amazing device; I call it The Supernatural to Natural Matter Transfer Device. [All the cool gods are getting them. Check your local supernatural electronics store.] What most adherents want to say is, my imaginary friend can do anything he or she wants, and it will become real in our world. If this isn't an example of a person suffering from a delusion, I don't know what is. It is like a small child. “ I want it. I want it. I want it.” It is a temper tantrum of supernatural proportions.
Maybe a device similar to a Supernatural to Natural Matter Transference Device [patent pending] is what these gods use to make their miracles. Instead of walking on water, as we would see in the real world, this god is walking on a bridge, that we cannot see. It was built with the SNMTD [now available at Radio Shack] and then disassembled the same way. Making up stories about reality is fun. You don't have to bother with reality at all, just like with religion. As it is supernatural, who needs to see it. There is no need to prove form or function or adhere to the Laws of Nature. Cause and effect is so silly a notion that one need not even address it. If something doesn't make sense, make up something else to be more confusing and inexplicable.
Still, for a person of faith, there must come a point when the view of the world comes in contrast with the alleged nature of a god. I would say that when addressing the physical existence of a divine, most believers have to admit they’ve not seen such a thing. At best, they will say they have felt “His” presence or provide some other ethereal explanation that seems totally understandable. But, if someone were to say the same of other gods, they would assume that person had been standing too close to the paint mixer. Not only would they admit it, but they would go so far as to say they don't need proof; they have faith. “And faith is all I need to know God is real.” Many very devout adherents have said this.

I have to admit, a statement like that is good enough for an almost non-fiction God.

Monday, August 2, 2010



On the Larry King Live Show October 30, 2009 there was a episode that had Dan Aykroyd and Joan Rivers as guests and this was due to Halloween being the next day. The ghost hunters and “experts” on the show were The Atlantic Paranormal Society founders Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson who have a show on the syfy channel called Ghost Hunters and Mary T Browne who recently wrote Five Rules of Thought: How to Use the Power of Your Mind to Get What You Want. Brown claims to be a “psychic” and counselor. I would be curious as to where she has her certification to be a counselor. Anyway, these so called persons in touch with the great beyond use terms and say words and phrases that seem to have the appearance of authority yet really are nothing but pure nonsense statements.i
Here are some of the examples of their statements; this is from the transcript taken from the CNN website. I am going to focus on a few of the more blatant examples of there none statements.
Browne make this statement as a matter of fact, “Well, I would assume that the house has a ghost energy, because often, electricity is affected. It's an energy. It's a vibration.”
Where to begin with just this one totally meaningless statement. First, If there were ghosts, why would one assume there was a ghost if one had not been to the house to examine it? Brown was just shown a video clip of a electric cord coming out of an outlet. This is as good as U.S. SEN Bill Frist making a diagnosis of Terri Schiavo by looking at a video tapes of her. So this part means nothing. She then says that often electricity is affected. She makes no reference to what that means or why or how or what else could be affected or what could possibly do that without being a ghost to begin with.
The she makes two statements of nonsense, “It's an energy. It's a vibration.” Well I guess one could say that electricity is an energy, but what does that have to do with anything that is being discussed about the video you just saw? However, MS Browne doesn't have the most elementary understanding of wave theory. A vibration is not an energy but a transmission of energy that is propagated over a medium. Such as a wave of water, a wave of light, a wave of a flag these are all examples of wave energy being transmitted over the medium but they are not equal to a energy in the context MS Brown is using it. What Ms Brown has down is used words in such a broad and meaningless way as to make her sound authoritative yet really only be nothing more than smoke and mirrors performer.
With Larry's second guest the TAPS people, who I happen to meet a few their associates in Ponca City, OK October 23, 2009 when there was a screening of the original Lon Chaney version of Phantom of the Opera from 1925. The Insight Paranormal team was there to promote their show to have the gullible pay $5 to hear the Ghost lesson and then pay $20 more to go on an actual “investigation” of The Poncan Theater. [Space is limited] When I saw the name TAPS and what the subject was about, my anagram for TAPS became “This Ain't Paranormal Stuff”.
The none statements about ghosts this group made was by Wilson when Larry King asked him what a Ghost is, “A ghost can be anything from a dead person, residual energy trapped in from a traumatic event trapped in some object in the house. It can be psychological issues.
It can be, some even say, a fold in space-time.”
With Wilson's statement he again turns to words that seem to be saying something but really he is using terms that have nothing to do with what he is talking about. A ghost may be a “dead person”, how? How is residual energy a ghost and what is this residual energy anyway? How does this energy become trapped? How is the medical condition of psychological issues become a ghost? When an explanation is given it should answer more question than it answers, or at least answering something.
Again, saying a few words that seem to have some sort of weight to them yet really reveal nothing is worse than simply say the answer, “I don't know.”
There was of course a full show but I am including the transcript in the link so anyone is free to look over the words and see if I am really taking the two small statements out of context.
I wanted to include this type of supernatural belief because I wanted to make sure that the idea of all imaginary concepts are false and nothing has yet to show evidence of a supernatural in any way shape or form. Included with this spook idea are also the believers of Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle, UFO-aliens, Homeopathy, Lock Ness monster, crop circles, tarot cards, palm readings, legend of Atlantis, psychics, mystics, astrology, Knights Templar legends and so on and so forth. Too this end, I find the wonder of reality and the joy of remembering my loved ones as I was with them better than to think of them being tortured or force to deal with these god's forced to praise them eternally. Which seems as much of a hell as the one that is described by the adherents.



The “God has always been there” fallacy is one that believers commonly use when dealing with how The Universe began. It is easy when dealing with factual disciplines such as science and mathematics, where one cannot just create an answer out of thin air, as some religious apologist do, to be able to questions areas of science that are not able or have not yet been able to reach a resolution of a question. One such question is, If The Universe was started in the Big Bang, Where did the Big Bang come from?
This question can likewise be turned upon a creationist or to other supernatural believers to ask, Where did your god come from. The most common answer is the unfalsifiable one. “God has always been.” This again like proving origins of life, one cannot show empirical data that will show this statement of fact. It is merely an attempt to show that they can develop an answer that cannot be disproved.
However, if this were true, then why through the expanse of space and time, no evidence for the supernatural nature of this god is present anywhere. If a deity could with the knowledge of such vast amounts of knowledge could create a universe of such unattainable time and distances, why is it so hard for that deity to show itself in the calm period after it created that universe?
When I was a child I loved the visit to the discount store and going down the toy isle without my Mother with me to see what fascinating things they had there. I loved the toys that where showing an impossible world. Toys such as the view master and Stretch Armstrong and the beautiful kaleidescope. The toys of imagination are there to entice the mind for what ever may come for the next generation. How long does a child read the comic books of youth or the girl keep to the Barbie aisle for make up even though the joy it provides her. This is a common display of the influence of childhood not being an overwhelming influence on the person as they grow older but a constant influence upon children and society as they reach certain ages.
Going back in my own youth I thought the television shows of Carol Burnett, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Sonny and Cher, Flip Wilson, Red Skelton and even The Monty Python Show, which I only saw in PBS in America in the mid 70s, though they reflected a more true example of reality. And to be honest the comedy of that time spoke much more truth than the religious indoctrination in my world view did and still does. The display of how the reflection of the world is through entertainment seems to fail the adherents of devout belief and they either fight against it or embrace it to be modified to merge with their own supernatural view.
The most compelling evidence adherents can offer is the “end result” of “creation” and the non-answer of faith. The adherents certainly have a sound argument that a skeptic cannot disprove. But just as they have a sound argument that skeptics cannot disprove their god, they cannot prove the existence of said deity without reverting to their fictional and contrived texts. Skeptics have the natural laws and evaluate physical evidence in context of those natural laws. But having these laws of nature are more than sufficient in the defense of the Big Bang and evolution and to dispel the idea of a supernatural cause for any effect as most religions would claim in their creation stories.