In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Yahweh and The Elohim

The Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament, is known to modern readers from the Masoretic text, a compilation of Hebrew texts assembled by Jewish scholars in the seventh to tenth centuries A.D. from older scrolls and codices. That text, and thus the Old Testament, contain two creation stories. It is not unusual for cultures to have multiple creation stories, and throughout this booklet the paraphrases have melded two or more variations of a culture’s creation story into one. However, because the two stories in the Old Testament are so different, the two stories are recounted separately here as “Yahweh” and then “The Elohim”.

Yahweh’s creation story is from Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. Extensive analysis of its style and content have led scholars of the Bible to conclude that the story was written in about the Tenth Century B.C.. That was around the time of King Solomon’s reign and in a time when Israel was a powerful nation. In contrast, the story in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 was written three or four centuries later and under very different circumstances.

The author of the story in Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 is known to scholars as “J”. That is because J referred to the creator as Yahweh ( or “YHVH” in ancient Hebrew, or “Jahweh” in the German native to many scholars of the Bible, or ultimately “Jehovah” in modern usage).

Some scholars have considered J the more primitive or rural of the two authors of the creation stories in Genesis. Others are more generous and characterize J as a poet rather than a priest. J was probably recording his or her people’s oral traditions in written form. Certainly J’s story is a more human story of temptation and punishment than the austere story written later by the author known as “P”, and J’s creator is more anthropomorphic.

In J’s story, the humans that are created have names. To English speakers, “Adam” and “Eve” are just names, but “Adam” meant “man” in ancient Hebrew and may also have been a play on “adamah”, the Hebrew word for “earth” or “clay”. “Eve” was the word for “life”.

——————

The Elohim’s creation story, the second of our two Hebrew creation stories, is from Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. It thus appears first in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Genesis, but it is actually the younger of the two stories presented there. A considerable body of scholarship over the last two or three centuries has concluded that this story was written in about the sixth century B.C.. That was after Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and at a time when the Hebrews were faced with exile in Babylon.

The author of this later story is known to scholars as “P”, because he or she wrote from a much more “priestly” perspective than J, the author of the chronologically earlier story that appears in Genesis 2:4 to 3:24 (see “Yahweh”, above). P’s story is one of creation ex nihilo (from nothing), and the creation is a much more stately process than that in J’s story. Because of the timing of its writing and the grandeur of its language, P’s story has been interpreted by scholars “as an origin story created for the benefit of a lost nation in the need of encouragement and affirmation” (Leeming and Leeming 1994, p. 113). In fact, some scholars have suggested that P’s story was actually written in Babylon.

P used the name “Elohim” for the creator. “Elohim” (pronounced “e lo HEEM”) is actually a plural word perhaps best translated as “the powerful ones”. P also used plural phrasing in the Elohim’s creation of humankind “after our own likeness”. Scholars have suggested that the use of the plural “Elohim” rather than the singular “Eloha” may hearken back to polytheistic roots of Middle Eastern religions and was a way to emphasize the magnitude of the deity in question. P’s first people have no names at all, in keeping with the story’s focus on the grandeur of the creator rather than on the created.

Sources

goodreasonnews:

katetheatheist:

panteradraco:

katetheatheist:

Your move Christians

lol, we humans count days by the sun, but does God have to do things by our standards?

How else would you count days? How long did time really pass then?

Actually, in a book designed for humans, yeah, a god would have to do things (or at least describe things) by our standards or at least explain this different set of standards.

goodreasonnews:

katetheatheist:

panteradraco:

katetheatheist:

Your move Christians

lol, we humans count days by the sun, but does God have to do things by our standards?

How else would you count days? How long did time really pass then?

Actually, in a book designed for humans, yeah, a god would have to do things (or at least describe things) by our standards or at least explain this different set of standards.

(Source: )

Guess Who Wins?

EVOLUTION vs GOD
A FILM REVIEW BY INGRID HANSEN SMYTHE

“I believe it’s going to take down evolution. It exposes it as bogus science. That sounds like a bold claim, but it’s true.”1
—Ray Comfort

“There is no refutation of Darwinian evolution in existence. If a refutation ever were to come about it would come from a serious scientist—not an idiot.”2
—Richard Dawkins

Ray Comfort, the professional preacher and proselytizer best known for his unwitting invention of the banana fallacy, is on the attack once again with his latest film Evolution vs. God. According to one reviewer this is a powerful film that leaves evolutionists “clutching at straws,”3 and Ray Comfort himself has issued a warning, saying, “I would say not to watch it if you are someone who believes in evolution, but you are weak in the faith.”4 Creationists claim that ever since the film’s release evolutionists have been in “damage control”5 and most significant of all, there’s been “an eerie silence from Professor Dawkins.”6 One imagines the beleaguered Dr. Dawkins sweating and grimacing in his underground biology bunker, surrounded by troll-like Darwinians all frantically trying to get their stories straight. “All right, people, next on the agenda is the doctrine of speciation. Who has faith in that godless heresy? Can I see a show of hands, please?”

It is astonishing to think that, of all people, Ray Comfort (now commonly known as Banana Man) has discovered, through his own tireless research, that the geneticists, the biochemists, the zoologists, the biologists, the geologists, the paleontologists, the ecologists, the comparative anatomists and physiologists, the cosmologists—the whole lot of them—have been entirely mistaken all this time. And if Ray’s film does what it claims, it will mean a scientific revolution on a scale the like of which has never been seen in the history of humanity. Note too that, in this film, Ray doesn’t interview any “creation scientists” as they rather comically call themselves,7 but only experts in the relevant disciplines, finally letting the godless Darwinians speak for themselves. How amazing that the Everest-like mountain of hard evidence for evolution might be razed to the ground in one brief 38-minute film by a man with only a high school education and a reputation for being, as Dawkins says, an idiot.8 Truly this is the mother of all David-and-Goliath tales, and so it was with great expectations that I settled in with my peanut butter and banana crackers and watched Evolution vs. God: Shaking the Foundations of Faith…

Read the Review

skepticalavenger:

Don’t forget that, by the reasoning of many Christians, everyone who died horribly by drowning were sent to hell for all eternity.
“But He loves us!”

Also, I would think that drowning virtually everyone on earth would have settled the score with respect to “original sin.”

skepticalavenger:

Don’t forget that, by the reasoning of many Christians, everyone who died horribly by drowning were sent to hell for all eternity.

“But He loves us!”

Also, I would think that drowning virtually everyone on earth would have settled the score with respect to “original sin.”

skepticalavenger:

Really?

ooh, question number 2 is good one. If the fall introduced evil to the world, how does this agent of evil preceded the fall? I’m sure there are tons of apologetics for this, but no matter what, they are just trying to justify the idea that a reptile in a garden manipulated a human into ruining all future generations by taking some bad advice about some fruit.

skepticalavenger:

Really?

ooh, question number 2 is good one. If the fall introduced evil to the world, how does this agent of evil preceded the fall? I’m sure there are tons of apologetics for this, but no matter what, they are just trying to justify the idea that a reptile in a garden manipulated a human into ruining all future generations by taking some bad advice about some fruit.

(Source: atheistjack)

Evolution and Other Matters

deconversionmovement:

veritas-splendor:

I am a little confused as to the point you are making. You state that we all came from one man 60,000 years ago, yet humans have been around for 200,000 years. So the “chromosome Adam,” is said to be the parent of “modern,” if you will, humanity. Yet mitochondrial Eve, from which all homo species (or that is what I thought it was getting at) came from, is 200,000 years old. So then could not that be the “Eve” of the Bible, and “Adam” (of the Bible, not chromosomal) be the first of the species that “Eve” was the part of? In other words, though he is called “chromosome Adam” I do not see why this must make him the Adam of the Bible. You gave proof for the first of the species through Mitochondrial Eve, so could not Adam have been her mate? And then from this point the species continued to evolve until it reached the Chromosomal Adam? Thus accounting for the diversity of our genetic make up. So by proving mitochondrial Eve, it is then necessary that she would have had a partner by which to pass on her genetics and that partner and Eve are the first of the human line that continued to adapt until it reached modern man. Her mate then, would be Adam, and the Chromosomal Adam would be a different person. So in short, Adam was the mate of Mitochondrial Eve, and thus they are still in line with evolution.

I didn’t state that chromosome Adam must be the Adam of the Bible.  I simply stated that he wasn’t Mitochondrial Eve’s mate.  I cannot stress this point enough, evolution is change in the traits of biological populations.  There is no ancestral couple.  A couple cannot qualify as a population.

“Unlike her biblical namesake, she (Mitochondrial Eve) wasn’t the only woman on Earth. In a sense, she’s just a quirk of statistics. But if that’s the case, then she’s easily the most important quirk of statistics who ever lived (Continue Reading).”

Perhaps this graphic will explain her importance in the human genome:

In other words, “[t]his individual passed down her mitochondria relatively unchanged to every human alive today, and all females will continue to pass down her mitochondria indefinitely.”  It is also useful to know that she isn’t our only common ancestor.  Again, the notion of two ancestral parents is inconsistent with Evolution.

Perhaps now would be a pertinent time to put forth the distinction made by the Church in regards to human evolution. The Church does allow for the possibility that the body of man (that for which you have been auguring) could have been created by evolution and the inter species mating (accounting for the Neanderthal DNA). Thus everything you have argued in regards to the science the Church does not reject. Where the distinction is made is within the creation of the soul. It is that which separates Adam and Eve from the rest of the previous species. Pope Pius XII explains

the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions … take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36)

So regardless of how the body came to be, the Church holds the narrative of Adam and Eve to be the first “humans” insofar as a human is defined as a composite of body and soul. Therefore the Church has absolutely no issue with what you say (besides the denial of God of course) yet creates a very clear distinction of what it means to be a human person.

To be frank, this is a contortion and nothing more.  A literal belief in Genesis 1 survived until Darwin and amongst the uneducated and obdurate, it still survives.  The notion of a soul is an issue of faith — based on absolutely no evidence.  Furthermore, a soul would only matter if libertarian free will were true.  However, it is not true.  Volition isn’t free from the multifarious variables that influence it.  Sam Harris makes a strong case in “Free Will”:

“But even if the human mind were made of soul-stuff, nothing about my argument would change. The unconscious operations of a soul would grant you no more freedom than the unconscious physiology of your brain does.

“If you don’t know what your soul is going to do next, you are not in control. This is obviously true in all cases where a person wishes he could feel or behave differently than he does: Think of the millions of committed Christians whose souls happen to be gay, prone to obesity, or bored by prayer. However, free will is no more evident when a person does exactly what, in retrospect, he wishes he had done. The soul that allows you to stay on your diet is just as mysterious as the one that tempts you to eat cherry pie for breakfast.”

Sam Harris (Free Will, p.12)

More and more evidence is demonstrating that h.neanderthalensis wasn’t so different from h.sapien.  In other words, why didn’t they have a soul?  Why didn’t ergaster, erectus and australopithecus have souls?  Little is known about their behavior, but bipedalism suggests that they were intelligent.  How can one distinguish between a being with a soul and a being without a soul?  Is self-awareness the basis?  If so, elephants and dolphins would qualify as having a soul.  Is free will the only criteria?  If that’s the case, the veracity of free will must first be proven; unfortunately, the type of free will that is germane in any conversation regarding the soul is illusory.  There is no evidence for a soul and I would argue that what we know about humans isn’t consistent with the idea of a body and soul distinction.

Forgive the preachy aspect of my last post, I read through it again and you are right about that. I did not mean to imply that evolution is a means by which God can be known. I meant that through knowing evolution man is able to understand the human person better. From this knowledge of self (which knowledge of evolution does not fully grant) man is then able to delve into the metaphysical realm, where a discovery of God could be made. Hopefully that is less preachy and more clear.

It is more clear, but I don’t see how a knowledge of evolution leads one to the metaphysical.  Moreover, if god intended for us to come to a deeper knowledge via an understanding of evolution, he has failed utterly.  Evolution is relatively young when compared to other scientific facts.  Furthermore, there are many mysteries within Evolutionary Biology.  It will be generations before we understand it fully and with the constant opposition, it will probably take longer.  Nonetheless, a knowledge of evolution doesn’t lead to the metaphysical and it sure as hell doesn’t lead to the Judeo-Christian god.

As for why God was not specific within the Bible with regards to science, it is simply because the Bible was not intended to be a science book. The Bible’s purpose, and infallibility is within its teachings in regards to salvific truth. Thus the inclusion of such things as the Big Bang Theory and the acceleration rate of gravity would not have been pertinent to the actual message. I understand the frustrations that arise when trying to read the Bible as anything other than what it was meant to be, be that a science book, history book… etc. But I do not claim a history book to be false because it does not include the specifics of science nor vice versa. So again, the reason the specifics of science where not put within the Bible is because it is not meant to be a science book.

The Bible is unreliable altogether.  If its purpose was to simply convey the message of salvation, it failed utterly.  Any educated person can speak of the unreliability of the Gospels and the Epistles.  The Bible is no different from its contemporaries — specifically other mythological literature.  There is no message other than the one that was agreed upon by agenda driven zealots.  In other words, the aspects that distinguish the Bible from similar stories were agreed upon by agenda driven zealots in different periods of time so that the stories may coincide with the message they were trying to get across.  For example, the Old Testament writers wrote, rewrote, edited and reedited in particular the Pentateuch and the book of Isaiah in order to solidify the notion of Monotheism — a relatively new idea that wasn’t prevalent in the ancient world.  Even the early Jews had four dominant deities, namely Yahweh, El, Baal, and Asherah.  Polytheism was to be expected of the ancients including the early Jews who had plenty of contact with the Egyptians and the Babylonians who were themselves Polytheists.  For more info watch here.  Karen Armstrong’s book is simplified in this video; perhaps it will be more useful to read “A History of God” if you haven’t already done so.  Her scholarship is verified by her fellow scholars.  Introduction to the Old Testament is a Yale open course that will clarify any issues you may have.

Again, I don’t see why he would waste such time writing or inspiring sacerdotal laws and clear atrocities.  Slaying the Amalekites has absolutely nothing to do with salvation.  Well, unless you’re William Lane Craig who argues that the children who were slayed were actually saved.  However, the story makes perfect sense in light of Yahweh’s character.  He was the god of war or alternatively, the god of the armies.  This is the reason why most of the tales end in victory or with a promise entailing retribution, salvation, and/or conquer.

In any case, an omniscient god, who wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), would recognize the appeal of science and would have been concerned with accuracy wherever science is mentioned.  However, there is inaccuracy when it is mentioned.  We live in a time when science challenges the idea of god.  An omniscient god would have foreseen this time and addressed it — especially if he is interested in the salvation of all people.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.  He was more concerned with Bronze Age literature and ritual.  Thus, it is more accurate to say that the men of those times were concerned with such matters; god — assuming there is one — would not have been and would not be concerned with such matters.  It may be useful for you to consider that Atheists aren’t the only ones who take this position; Deists have made similar arguments — particularly Thomas Paine in “The Age of Reason”.  In other words, Atheism isn’t the default position.  I would be equally satisfied if you considered Thomas Paine’s god or Spinoza’s god.  They are more rational considerations after all.

As for the connection of Christ with Adam, as was aforementioned, “Adam” came to be when his soul was created, regardless of where he was within the evolution process. So the connection between Adam and Christ is still there. Also if you could point me to the sources you use to state, “Scholars agree:  the divine Christ didn’t exist” that would be most helpful. I would question the absolute lack of emotional investment within your search, but as I do not know you personally I will take you on your word. That being said, I do have an investment within Christianity but to fudge the research or follow bad logic would be an insult to the very Creator I am trying to defend by the use of the reason he gave me. So while I do have an investment in my research (otherwise I do not know why I would look into it) it does not interfere with the things I find to be true, as to muck up my reason would be a denial of what I am searching for in and of itself.

I addressed the issue of the soul in an earlier section.  For the record, a soul doesn’t account for their genealogical connection — a connection that is contradictory in and of itself when the genealogies in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are compared side by side. 

Scholars do agree; the divine Christ didn’t exist:

Richard Carrier and Robert M. Price have written at length about this topic; Carrier has also debated known apologists and honestly, they were all outclassed.  There are also others; however, I am not yet familiar with their work.  I’ve named Carrier and Price because I’m familiar with their work.  When I compare their scholarship to the likes of William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, and other apologists, my assertion is well supported.  Jesus the man may have existed, but the Christ that Christians believe in did not exist.  If the scholarship isn’t enough, think of Matthew 27:53 and the ascension.  Any historian that was a contemporary of Christ would have recorded such astonishing events; even non-historians could have given themselves the right to do so.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.  Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Christianity is founded on a myth.

When will people learn not to mess with Decon?

(Source: darthheretic)

Avoidance of Facts

deconversionmovement:

sungyak

How does evolution “cancel out” the creation account in Genesis? This seems to me a blank assertion, and so I don’t see how the conclusion that Adam didn’t exist follows. 

The Bible is composed of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. ‘Light’ doesn’t always mean “one extreme of the electromagnetic spectrum.” That’s not what Jesus was saying about himself when he said ‘You are the light of the world.’ 

I don’t see the logic in your complaint. If your US history book doesn’t mention the law of gravity, can I then go on to assume that George Washington never existed?

Didn’t I just explain that to you?  Evolution cancels out the creation myth because the creation myth revolves around two humans.  Humans aren’t exempt from Evolution and therefore, they could not have been the first intelligent primate to walk the Earth.  Even if we grant that Adam and Eve were Neanderthals, we  still have to account for h.habilis, h.erectus, h.ergaster, h.heidelbergensis,  australopithecus africanus, australopithecus afarnensis, and others.  However, it doesn’t stop there.  When reading on, the animals that supposedly lived during the time of Adam were animals that are currently alive.  The original creation could not have been composed of current life on Earth.  Again, 99.9% of species are already extinct.  The fossil record is extensive.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of dinosaur species completely unaccounted for in the Bible.  There is also a massive issue there.  Dinosaurs lived before modern man and all of our ancestors.  Again, there’s no way the original creation was composed of current life.  Evolution cancels out the Creation myth.  Heck, paleontology cancels out the Creation myth!  Adam is then canceled out.  No Adam, no original sin.  No original sin, no reason for Christ to have died.  No Adam, perhaps no Christ.  No Adam, maybe Christ, but not the Christ depicted in the Bible.  Christianity is a dead faith; its followers just don’t know it yet or they refuse to consider it — let alone admit it.

“Let there be light” is interpreted by some Christians as the Big Bang.  Therefore, they have to grant that light is one extreme of the electromagnetic spectrum.  If “let there be light” isn’t the Big Bang, where then is it mentioned in the Bible?  It is simple to conclude that it isn’t mentioned at all.  Of course “the light of the world” had a different meaning, but that is irrelevant when considering the point I’m making.  That was a red herring on your part.

Your last paragraph is a false analogy.  We aren’t talking about history and Washington.  We’re speaking of the supposed Creator of the universe.  How can he declare the Sun a greater light as if it is somehow different from the stars?  How can he declare the moon a lesser light as if it is in any way similar to stars?  The Moon is more like a planet.  How can he declare that the Earth was created before the stars?  This is utterly impossible.  How can he declare that a universe this vast was created for a third chimpanzee on a tiny rock orbiting a mediocre star in an average galaxy that is one of billions of galaxies?  How can he be the Creator and not have a knowledge concerning the vastness of species that have existed; not have a knowledge of the mechanism that drives speciation?  How can he be the original cause if he failed to mention exactly what he caused?  He decided to leave us with a story a kin to a myth rather than leaving us with an accurate description of events that are irrefutable when compared to science.  Your god is too puny for this universe; too nonexistent to be considered; too human to be called a god; too irrelevant to give you an upper hand in this debate.  You can avoid facts all you want.  Avoiding facts doesn’t make them any less true.

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