Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Genesis of Genesis

“I caught a fish THIS big.”

People lie.  Sometimes they do it on purpose because it has some benefit to them, either for fame or money or simply pride.  Sometimes they do it accidentally because time has helped them forget or they heard a rumor and believe it was true.

The book of Genesis in the Christian Bible is unique because the author(s) didn’t witness the events.  It was written thousands of years past the start of it (at least according to its pages) and clearly nobody witnessed the events of Chapter 1 (the creation of the universe up to the advent of man).

The stories are fantastic and hard to believe, probably because they didn’t happen.  When stories are told time and time again to generation after generation, they change.  Remember that kids’ game “Telephone”?  Even a whispered message rarely survives intact when passed on – someone along the line wants to change it or hears it wrong, but either way it changes.

Christians don’t believe this is how the stories found their way into the Bible, though.  Scripture is “God-inspired”.  What does that mean, exactly?  Does God stand over the writer’s shoulder and speak it while the writer simply transcribes it?  Why bother with a middleman in the first place?

Man is fallible and doesn’t always do God’s will, so therefore if man is placed in charge of writing the Bible (even with God playing Telephone in his ear) then the Bible’s writing is fallible.   Let’s take the story of Noah, for instance – the Earth was not covered in 1000 feet of water (covering the highest of mountains, including Everest) for 7 months.  All the plant life (none was taken onto the ark) would die, either from the salt caused by mixing with ocean water or water pressure or lack of sunlight/CO2 or all of the above.  The world would be one big desert.  That’s just the start of it…

Consider keeping penguins alive for 7 months (or even 1 month!) aboard the ark.  They need salt water, but can’t live in open water (particularly after it has 40 days and 40 nights of fresh water either sitting on it or mixed in with it).  They need fish, and it has to be caught fresh because there’s no method to preserve it, nor is there anyone available to tend to their dietary needs alone.  They need a cold environment (in the same ship that requires a hot environment for all reptiles aboard).

It took many years to figure out how to keep penguins alive in a confined space without them dying, and dying would mean they wouldn’t be alive today.  Even now it would be impossible to tend to thousands of animals per day among a small team of people (it wouldn’t even be possible simply to feed them in time, let alone clean up their droppings).

It would be hard to collect them from the south pole, and it’s unlikely they returned there after waddling down off of Mount Ararat.

To believe the story of Noah’s ark is to believe fantastical science, and if you believe God simply filled in the unscientific gaps with his divine magic then no amount of science will ever cause you to disbelieve the Bible’s words…  even though they were written by a fallible man who never witnessed them.


We Are All Unbelievers

I’m an Atheist.  I don’t believe in God.  And neither do you.

Now of course, if you’re not an Atheist, you probably think it’s stupid to say with certainty that you don’t believe in God.  It’s true, though.  While you may believe in a God, you don’t believe in every God.  It would be tough to find a member of both Protestant and Catholic churches, a Scientologist who is also a Mormon, a Hindu Orthodox Jew or a Buddhist Muslim.  Even if you believe in a god, you don’t believe in the other gods.  So are far as total faith goes, you worship less than 5% of the world’s common religious figures, which makes you over 95% unbelieving.

While the math may not dazzle you, maybe you understand my skepticism when you tell me that proof of your God is all around us, because you’ve heard it from other religions and you agree with me on those counts.  When you’re not invested in a belief it’s easier to disbelieve.

And please don’t tell me it’s wrong to be Agnostic (“willfully ignorant”) either.  I’m willing to wager that the majority of those who are certain that the Muslim faith is entirely wrong have never cracked open a Qur’an.  Many who laugh at Scientology beliefs don’t even know what they are.  And those who don’t believe Hindi icons can answer prayers have never offered a single one.   Are you ignorant about the beliefs of others an accident, or by will?  I believe you, too, are Agnostic.

Maybe I’m being unfair calling you an Unbeliever and an Agnostic.  I don’t mean to offend.  I think a person should be allowed to believe what they want.  Atheism doesn’t ask for recruits, just asks that you stop trying to push your faith on us.  Every American has the freedom of religion – even unbelievers.


Mommy, Where Do Votes Come From?

When Obama was elected, the media were unanimous that the reason for his election was based on a “need for change”.  When Scott Brown was recently elected, the media also said this was a reflection on the people’s “need for change”.  And when the Supreme Court took away the limit on corporate spending towards political campaigns, the media said this would change future elections.  This shocked and appalled me – not the decision, but the media’s reaction.

The Supreme Court gave corporations carte blanche to spend on political advertising based on precedent and the first amendment.  I think they made the right call.  Like John Roberts said, “Judges are like umpires.  Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them.”  The problem is in the precedent of ruling corporations as citizens in the first place, not in the current ruling upholding free speech.

The media are in an uproar over this, suggesting that corporations can buy votes.  This is based on the idea that money buys influence.  Consider the following elections and money spent on campaigning:

2008: Obama – $730 M; McCain – $333 M

2004: Bush – $367 M; Kerry – $328 M

It’s reasonable that money buys influence.  Correlation doesn’t prove causation – it’s an ad hoc argument – but corporations are spending millions on advertising during the Super Bowl based on the theory that money buys influence.

So here’s the disparity – the media are upset about the Supreme Court decision, reflecting the feelings of most Americans, on what I believe is a logical belief in the shift of power to corporations.  What I don’t understand is how they’ve based previous election results on “the will of the people” and not “campaign spending”.  You can’t have it both ways – either money wins elections or it doesn’t.  I think it does, and apparently so do most people.  Let’s remember this the next time an election is won, and give credit where it’s due.