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The Young Versus the Old December 24, 2010

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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I’m talking about our planet earth, and it’s age. How old is the earth anyway? According to science, our planet is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Within the scientific community, there really is no debate worth considering over this, as the facts and evidence to support this estimate are well documented and tested.

On the other hand, there are many people, especially in the United States, who believe that our planet is somewhere between six to ten thousand years old. The scale of difference between 4.5 billon and 6 thousand is not even worth writing down (.0000013). Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

So why do people believe this young and very absurd age? Because they were told that the biblical story of Genesis pinpoints the beginning of the earth, God’s creation, at about 6,000 years ago. That’s it. God did it, they believe it, end of story. Science be damned, they say. Although, to be fair, I think that most of these people just don’t want to challenge religious doctrine, or biblical stories.

But this also poses what I consider a serious problem for Christians who hold either the young earth or old earth position. Yes, there are Christians who reject the young earth idea, and adopt an old earth version of creation, which they somehow have decided matches very well with science. Go figure. The problem is that only one of these positions can be true, and Christians do not agree with each other.

So, what if Genesis is just a metaphor for how God created the earth, and science has it about right? Well, Christians still get to believe that God did all of this work, and they can rest easy knowing that science is finally catching up to the truth of God’s creation. But if they believe the rigid accounting from The Bible as accurate, then they must hold that the earth is much younger than science thinks it is. This of course creates all sorts of problems for scientists if it is true, but whatever.

One thing I would like to add to this is the fact that I personally know Christians on both sides of this issue. And when I challenged them to this obvious difference, I was astounded to hear them both agree that this difference in no way affects their salvation! What? Seriously? Apparently I am supposed to sit back in awe of Christian knowledge of scripture and science catching up to scripture, and just ignore this magnanimous, blunderingly sad excuse for an explanation?

Christianity holds that accepting Jesus is the way to eternal life and salvation after we die, as well as the horrific fiery torture and burning in hell for not believing. So when people like myself want to find out why we should accept Jesus as our savior, we are expected to suspend all critical thinking and only be concerned with salvation? Is that it, really? And if this is true, then I ask this simple question:

Why do Christians care about anything in scripture that does not speak directly to the faith-based acceptance of Jesus for one’s salvation? And please don’t try to tell me that every word in scripture matters, if you can’t agree on how old the earth is based on scripture.

Creationists, You Were Lied To February 6, 2010

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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I feel sorry for some of you, but not for those of you who remain steadfastly ignorant, on purpose, of how life has evolved on our planet. The ones I feel sorry for are young children who are being deliberately lied to by people who think that the stories in Genesis reflect the actual truth about how the world and its life came to be, by the hand of their god. As a parent, I find it reprehensible that some parents allow their children to be dogmatically and religiously indoctrinated into a system of mythology and superstition that requires absolute suspension of disbelief, in order to hold on to their warm blanket of God.

Richard Dawkins has said that believing that the earth is less than ten thousand years old is equivalent to believing that the distance between New York and San Francisco is less than ten meters. That is a scale of ignorance that defies logic, even to a young child. Yet every day, children are lied to, on purpose, by people who think they are doing right by their god, that they are somehow defending the honor of their god by plugging their ears whenever observable reality steps in and say’s hello.

If you still want to believe that a god worked its magic and created everything, I can’t stop you, nor would I want to. But I will actively voice my opinion and concern when you deliberately lie to children by teaching them that something written by an unknown story teller, thousands of years ago, before humans learned what shape the planet is, is a fact. And when you teach them that science is wrong, and that science is atheist, or that science hates gods, or any other conflation between what real scientists have learned and contributed to humanity, you show your willingness to actually lie to your own children. For these things I will always speak out, and remind creationists that they were lied to by someone.

We can remove the ignorance that has spread over the most powerful and free country in all of humanity if we just stop allowing mythology and superstition to insert itself where it does not belong. If parents want to take their children to church, and teach them about their religious beliefs, I have no problem at all with that (although I think that children should always be allowed to decide about religion when they are old enough to decide on their own.) Just keep your religion out of the public education system, stop worrying about what science is doing if you don’t care to embrace it, and don’t lie to your children on purpose just to defend your personal superstitions. It’s embarrassing as a fellow human to see this happening.

The Irony of Intelligent Design January 17, 2010

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I was watching some videos recently where an evolutionary biologist, and a doctor were discussing “intelligent design”. The first thing that struck me was the fact that the human body is often described as “designed”, or as “a machine.” This tends to subconsciously create the idea that there is a specific intent in the current human design, as though it has a blue print. Machines have blue prints, humans, not so much. We have a genome, and unless both doctors in the video are wrong, the genome is not a blue print, simply because there isn’t a single blue print. And also because there is no such thing as a “normal” genome that each human follows.

The other idea that they touched on rather eloquently, was the fact that human mammals have flaws, that when taken at face value, would frankly be sent back to the manufacturer as defective – had they been designed and created according to some accurate blue print. When intelligent design proponents talk about the human eye, and claim that it must have had a designer, they fail to completely understand the useful mechanics of translating light into an image, such as with a camera, and how the human eye has multiple failures in comparison. For example, the human eye has a blind spot. This blind spot has a cause, which points to a flaw in its design, when compared to a camera lens for example, or when compared to other animals without a similar flaw.

Another problem mentioned in the video was back pain, as a result of walking upright and not having a properly evolved backbone to sustain such a posture for our entire lifespan. There are plenty of other areas where the human body is clearly lacking when compared firstly to other animals, and then compared to actual machines, where design and manufacture by blueprint is a standard that the recipient of the machine has every right to demand be correct!

The irony is that a simple understanding of the fragile human body, with its strengths, weaknesses, beauty, ugliness, and obvious shortcomings in many unfortunate cases, is that any god that is capable of creating a universe and everything in it, should be held accountable for the poor design and workmanship evident in humans. If God designed humans, then perhaps we need some sort of return policy, trade-in policy, or better yet, a replacement policy when things don’t turn out right for us individually with respect to our “perfectly designed” bodies.

Disclaimer: I am not an evolutionary biologist, nor am I a doctor, so the above blog represents my opinion only. When it comes to claiming that some god designed me, as a human, I don’t need to be an expert to see the poor design, feel the back pain, go get glasses to adjust my failing eyesight, or see the evidence of diseases, infections, and birth-defects that this “perfectly deigned” god supposedly created. I am living proof that humans are a direct result of evolution, just like all life on our lonely planet.

Religion, Science, and Conflation January 10, 2010

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As a new blogger, and as one who takes great interest in science and its contributions to human knowledge, I felt it was time to address the topic of what I perceive to be a serious problem. Namely, the conflation of topics, theories, and fields of study related to what we have learned, using the scientific method, about our universe, and our planet and its life. What exactly is going on? Well, for one thing, when one attacks a scientific theory because it conflicts with their religious beliefs, it seems they will stop at nothing to confuse and conflate the theory with a series of arguments that really have nothing to do with the theory they are attacking.

For example, the theory of evolution. This theory is an attempt to discover and understand how life forms have, and continue to, evolve over time. From the earliest evidence of life, up to the current range of life including plants and animals. The theory of evolution does not give an account of how life on planet earth got started. Since there is evidence that the planet was once devoid of life forms, the assumption is that life “somehow” got started. Given that evolution does not attempt to answer the specific question regarding how life got started, then using that fact against the theory is, to put it plainly, pointless. To be sure, there are scientists spending plenty of their valuable time and effort on abiogenesis, the study of how life on our planet first got started.

Regardless of how life got started, it is evolving. There is little doubt or disagreement about this. There is certainly plenty of disagreement about the ToE among outspoken believers that life was placed here by a god. But it is quite clear that it stands today as the only scientific explanation over the evolution of life on earth. To claim that it is not is nothing more than admitting ignorance of the theory, misunderstanding what the theory is telling us, or outright refusal to accept it, usually on religious grounds. If there exists any scientist out there with a genuine study that refutes the ToE to the extent that it no longer stands, they have yet to come forward and prove it.

Another example of conflation between science and religion is the idea that science is atheistic. Hogwash. There are many scientists who have done great work, who are Christians. There is no conspiracy between science and religion. There is no group of atheist scientists trying to shut down religion. There are no atheistic scientific theories. To put it clearly, science is how we discover how the world works. Religion, on the other hand, is how we used to explain how the world works. Before science came along, people relied on religious leaders to explain things. Science has been attacked ever since.

To conflate issues between science and religion, is to deliberately mislead and confuse people with incorrect information. While it is always ones right to reject science, it is hardly appropriate to claim a better answer than we have through science in favor of a religious answer, especially when you don’t have evidence to support it. If you think you have a better answer to a scientific theory, you have every right to present your evidence, using the proper scientific method. You are also quite obligated to understand the theory, why it is important, and what the theory actually means. Anything less will get you the ridicule and derision you deserve. There are far too many honest, hard working scientists around the world to have to stoop to a level of ignorance that keeps them from doing good work that actually helps humanity!

Creationism is Wrong December 1, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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Young earth creationism is so deeply flawed, it’s hard to imagine anyone follows it at all. But, they do, lots of them do. Of course, popularity does not bring truth to a thing, it just makes it popular, like Coca Cola. There is only one reason to think that a god created everything about 6,000 years ago – because one doesn’t care about facts. The fact that we can see objects in the universe, whose light took billions of years to reach us doesn’t matter to a Creationist. The fact that radioactive decay is constant, and tells us the approximate age of earthbound materials, such as million year old fossils and rocks, doesn’t matter to a Creationist. The fact that more crude methods of dating give us much older estimates than 6,000 years doesn’t matter to Creationists. Really, Creationists would never let a fact get in the way of their belief that an almighty, imaginary being in the sky, “poofed” the universe and everything in it into existence, simply because it wanted to.

It’s really kind of sad to think that ignorance and religion are working together to bind people to completely false ideas and knowledge. An otherwise normal human being, without religion, would have no reason whatsoever to doubt that what we currently know about the universe and our world is true. Even though science can be wrong, and it can be biased, and it can even be abused in some cases, it is the best model we have for understanding things. By default, even when it can seem stubborn, it is self-correcting, always. All of the collective knowledge gained on a topic, such as evolution, is completely open to critical analysis, discussion, and debate – with one catch – honest inquiry.

When Creationists attempt to use an ideology, such as Christianity, to define a set of knowledge about the observable, measurable world, all honesty is lost. Since religion has no one to answer to, it can make any claim it wants in order to support itself. Creationism is only one area of dishonesty supported by religious dogma and ignorance. If we don’t like what science discovers, so what? Why do we have to be pleased by how the world works?

If science discovers facts that fly in the face of religious beliefs, that is a direct challenge to those beliefs, and creates a major problem for religion. For that reason, it is attacked relentlessly on dishonest grounds, simply to keep a religious belief from crumbling. Too bad really, because what we have learned since the dawn of modern science has done more good for humans than all imaginary gods and their religions combined. We have stepped over a threshold of ignorance, and into a light of reason and intelligence, gaining more knowledge recently than all of humankind in any period.

I am not about to spend my time pointing out the flaws in Creationism, because it is like trying to convince educated adults that Santa is a myth. It is quite pointless. Creationism sounds like an idea that was thought up about 6,000 years ago, before humans realized they were on a planet. Imagine that.

Why Do I Bother? October 3, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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Since I’m a new blogger, as of this writing, no one is reading my blog.  I take that as a sign that no one knows I’m here, as well as a sign that I am not saying anything particularly original – although the latter is based on my true concern.  Since I’m not saying anything particularly original, there seems to be no reason to bother.  So, why do I bother?

I have been on a personal journey of self education for over a year now, and I have never felt more passionate about who I am and what I stand for.  As the presidential election of 2008 rolled around, and America saw its first black president get elected, I have noticed that the losing side of the election has been extremely vocal.  I have tried to point out that the conservatives need to take a far more serious look at themselves, and why they lost so badly, as opposed to spending their time attacking the current administration.  This is one example of why I bother, and I see a pattern.

In my journey to free myself from religion, and announce it to myself, as well as friends and family, I am far more sensitive to religious ideologies, beliefs, and agendas (especially political agendas.)  But outside of the political arena, there are other agendas such as the effort to have biblical creationism taught in public science classes.  I have now been exposed to creationists and their agenda, and I can say with a fair amount of certainty, that they are not interested in proving their creationist position, but rather, they are interested in tearing down the theory of evolution.  This is a pattern.  Attack that which you don’t agree with, as opposed to having an original thought, or idea, with good evidence to support it.

Whether creationists (evolution deniers) and conservatives are the same group or not is not all that important.  What is very important however, is that evolution is a scientific theory which happens to have more evidence than any other idea at the moment.  But science is not so dogmatic that it will hang on to this theory if conflicting evidence shows it to be false.  Science will adjust, as it always does, eventually.  The entire body of evidence for evolution is up for grabs!  Anyone can debunk the theory and win a Nobel prize.  Yet, they have not done so, because they would rather spend their time attacking evolution because it puts their particular religion in jeopardy in some way.  Just like the conservatives spend their time attacking the administration that won the election by a land slide – instead of going back to work on their own party in preparation for the next election.  Too bad, really.

Even though I’m not breaking any records for readership (except for being one of the totally unread), I feel compelled to work on my thoughts in the blogosphere, and continue to reach for more original thoughts on topics that have been thought about for centuries – a daunting task, but a worthwhile one for me.  I bother because dogmatic thinking is dangerous, and it leaves me feeling like humanity is doomed.  I bother because attacking your opponent, while it can be temporarily effective, wears out fast.  I bother because I don’t like groups who try to tell people what to think, as opposed to convincing them with a solid, rational argument.