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“Atheism” What is it?
Type Dedication here
To all atheists everywhere.
Foreword Preface Chapter 1 “Faith and Dogma” Chapter 2 “Creationism/Intelligent Design” Chapter 3 “Theology and Atheology” Chapter 4 “Evolution, Determinism, and the Properties of Matter” Chapter 5 “Evidence, Logic, and Fallacies” Chapter 6 “Roots and Fruits” Chapter 7 “Globalism and Tribalism” Chapter 8 “Mind, Brain, Soul, Spirit” Chapter 9 “Psychology” Chapter 10”Christian Questions” Chapter 11 “Early Critics of Christianity” Chapter 12 “The Future” Appendix: “Reasons not to believe” Bibliography.
It is difficult for an enthusiastic amateur like me to gain access to original documents, or indeed to know just how original they are anyway. Also without a good knowledge of the original languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin my efforts in this book can be little more than an anthology of other researchers work, -hopefully with some extra personalised comments and style of presentation. I think it helps though to have produced what I would like to believe is a concise collection of the salient features of the conflict between religion and atheistic rationalism for anyone new to this subject. Of the books mentioned in the Bibliography at the end, I can truthfully claim to possess and to have read most of them, and referred to the rest, over the past 50 years of my atheism. I have tried to follow Gibbon’s example in his “Decline and fall”, by referring to primary documents wherever possible; though of course this is only a brief work, and not to be compared with his Magnum Opus.
Having read so many books about Jesus, I decided why not have a go myself at presenting the opposite pole of the argument; surely I could not be worse. Even a prominent Professor, who has attempted to rebut Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, makes some very unsound assertions, along with many others of Dawkins’ “fleas” who have jumped on the bandwagon for Jesus. Atheism has become a hot topic in recent years, with books appearing from the “New Atheists”, which are causing a stir among believers and the undecided alike. In particular, Dawkins’ book has caused violent outrage. There are many paths to Atheism, and this little book is an attempt at an anthology of the different strands of Science, Philosophy, Psychology, History, Comparative Religion and Mythology which one might otherwise have to track down separately in different publications There are of course many other prominent as well as more low-profile atheists, and their
outspokenness appears to be increasing, even in the US.
“The God Strategy”, in which David Domke and Kevin Coe offer a timely and dynamic study of the rise of religion in American politics, examining the public messages of political leaders over the past seventy-five years--from the 1932 election of Franklin Roosevelt to the early stages of the 2008 presidential race. They conclude that U.S. politics today is defined by a calculated, deliberate, and partisan use of faith that is unprecedented in modern politics..
It appears to be a vicious circle in the US with Democrats and Republicans falling over themselves to demonstrate their own competitive religiosity to the Christian voters and thereby reinforcing religious fervour nationwide; I wonder how it will end? Probably a Crusade against a prominent godless Communist country. Meanwhile the population becomes dumber and dumber about Science, and especially Evolution, and prayer meetings continue in the White House. Practical atheism has advanced in many societies. J. N. Findlay and J. J. C. Smart argued that the existence of God is not
logically necessary. Naturalists and materialistic monists such as John Dewey considered the natural world to be the basis of everything, denying the existence of God or immortality. A 1995 survey attributed to the Encyclopædia Britannica indicates that the non-religious are about 14.7% of the world's population, and atheists around 3.8%. Another survey attributed to Britannica shows the population of atheists at around 2.4% of the world's population. It is difficult to determine whether atheism is growing or not. A study has shown atheism to be particularly prevalent among scientists, a tendency already quite marked at the beginning of the 20th century, developing into a dominant one during the course of the century. In 1914, James H. Leuba found that 58% of 1,000 randomly selected U.S. natural scientists expressed "disbelief or doubt in the existence of God (defined as a personal God which interacts directly with human beings). The same study, repeated in 1996, gave a similar percentage of 60.7%; this number is 93% among the members of the National Academy of Sciences.
In order to justify Atheism, which after all is nothing more than a simple denial of the existence of God, or a state of being “godless”, and therefore an entirely negative proposition, one has to point out that it’s existence would be unnecessary without “Theism”,-the worship of the God of Abraham as described in both Testaments of the Bible and in the Quran, as well as the ancient polytheistic gods of the Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans etc. For atheists it is necessary to take on the assertions of Religion, and try to dismantle them. This of course requires a scholarly approach equal and opposite to the erudition of the main world leaders of the Faiths,-and something which I have left it rather late in life to try and emulate,-but one can make some critical inroads into “Atheology”, the study of countering religious claims,--sufficient at least to stimulate some reaction against Faith and Dogma. So what do atheists consider to be the causes of, or correlations with, theistic belief? Moral depravity: Moral depravity has been demonstrated in the religious community
throughout history. In addition, there is the historical matter of abrogating personal responsibility in favour of what is seen to be “God’s Will”, and using stern passages from Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the Bible to justify any action. It will be seen here that “morality” has different definitions according to one’s prior belief system. To the religiousminded, - ancient writings appear authentic merely because of their age and supposed sanctity. To modern freethinkers, such attitudes appear fossilised, parochial and irrelevant. Piety and prayerfulness has never prevented nations or individuals from murder, executions and war and deceit, hypocrisy and cruelty. All these things are excused by the religious as “God helps those who help themselves”. Ignorance of the real world. Superficiality: converting to a religion because of pressure from parents and friends. Hatred of any opposing view. Error: Theism partly stems from a failure to fairly and judiciously consider the facts
Established State Churches; In regards to the causes of theism, rates of theism are much higher in countries with a state sanctioned religion (such as many European countries), and lower in states without a sanctioned religion (such as the United States). Some argue this is because state churches are bloated, corrupt, and/or out of touch with reality, while churches independent of the state are leaner and more adaptable. Poor relationship with father: Some argue that a troubled/non- existent relationship with a father may influence one of the causes of theism.] Dr. Steven Pinker wrote an article entitled The Evolutionary Origin of Religion in which he points out that after studying the lives of more than a dozen leading theists he found that a large majority of them had a father who was present but weak, present but abusive, or absent. Dr. Pinker has also stated other common factors he observed in the leading theists he profiled: they were all devious and arrogant. Animal nature: According to Mark Twain, theism is caused by "animal nature; Man is a
Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion--several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbour as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven....The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste. “ Second-hand notions: Mark Twain argued that theism was partly caused thusly, "In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”Jewish psychologist Dr. Robert Wolf has stated "Theism is the natural, normal point of view of anyone who has been exposed to religious conditioning. No one would believe that there is an invisible king (or queen) in the sky if this doctrine had not been imposed on a large part of the human race by the advocates
of monarchy in ancient times. But because the pressure to believe in an invisible "Supreme Being" is still quite intense, theism in practice appears as the ability to resist reality while claiming its common sense." Wolf stated that "Today theism takes the form of anti-Zionism, which is the effort to demonize and destroy the nation of Israel in the service of one or another autocratic ideal, be it Muslim, Marxist or Nazi. Marx, by the way, although commonly seen as a Jewish atheist, was actually a convert to Christianity who celebrated Christmas his entire life." Negative experiences with atheists. Science: Science can be seen as a threat to God and the authenticity of the Bible. Personal tragedy: For example, the death of a loved one, a friend or family member, can reinforce someone's religious belief, and seek comfort in belief in God,- without considering that God could perhaps have prevented it in the first place.
Chapter 1 Faith and Dogma
In their efforts to oppose what they see as the rising tide of Atheism, Christians are fond of referring to it as “just another Faith”. My most recent impression of this is in an article in the New Scientist, in which a well known female philosopher tiresomely equates an enthusiasm for Science with the derogatory term “Scientism,--in which dedicated scientists are supposed to be wanting to take over the world, and who deny any worth in the Humanities such as Art, Music, Poetry, literature, morality, and finer feelings generally. One only has to read Richard Dawkins’ works to appreciate his love of Nature and the metaphysical concept of scientific truth about the world and the larger Universe. We all tend to “reify” (Latin “Res”= “Thing”) what are mere evolving processes and try and make of them “Things –in-Themselves”, having a separate existence like Plato’s Forms, eg Love, Beauty, Truth, Justice,-which are apparently floating about in Space, having been hatched by God for the benefit of human beings.
Science has similarly been reified into “Scientism”, and added to Plato’s list of Forms,- an alleged faith and dogma which we now worship as a new God, having abandoned belief in Yahweh the God of Israel. Why should I be obliged to worship the God of Israel?-I am not even Jewish. Science as “Scientism” is of course equated with atheism, in the minds of the followers of Abraham’s god. So what is “Atheism” anyway? It has been classified into a number of types, but two main ones will be considered: 1. “Weak Atheism”. This is akin to Agnosticism,-and is the assertion that we have no valid logical or empirical grounds for belief in God,-we do not know of any such God,therefore we reject the concept, and assume atheism as the default state. 2. “Strong Atheism”. In this type, it is asserted that atheism is a kind of belief system,-rather than mere passive unbelief. This is a scrap we can throw to the Christians, who are always asserting that Atheism is a religion. It is indeed a belief system, but definitely not a religion; why not? Because if we use actual
English, and not “Christian-ish”, religion retains it’s proper meaning of: worship of a spiritual, supernatural, invisible God, plus prayer and sacrifice, hymn-singing and worship, and consultation of a Holy Book of instruction on how to lead one’s life. Do atheists, either strong or weak, do any of these activities?—no they do not. Therefore atheism (also Science),-is not Religion; so let’s not hear any more nonsense by that claim. There is also another modern term “Brights”, used by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and others, and which includes atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, secular humanists and non-theists generally. I don’t like it myself; we wish to influence Believers by reasoned argument not by insulting them by implying that they are “Stupids” or “Darks” by comparison with we “Brights”,--(even if true). As always, Christians want to have it both ways; they criticise atheistic scientism as being a dogmatic religious faith, while apparently forgetting that for them, faith and dogma and religion generally are supposed to be a Good Thing. Don’t they want us to have faith now? Are we now too religious for them because of
our blind belief in Scientism? They quite often shoot themselves in the foot in this way, undermining their own case. Quite often they state their doubts clearly,-thereby demonstrating the nonsense of theology; I think they are then hoping to cancel such doubts by following them up with a triumphant declaration of defiant faith. This is because they love paradox, and often say things equivalent to saying “black is black, yet it is white.” The qualifier “yet” is popular when used like this; eg God is located in his own space-time Universe,(which is why you can’t see him),-yet,--he is in this room , or everywhere, or in your heart”. As part of their ”having –their-cake-and eat – it” approach, Christians are happy to re-define, or “interpret” words and statements generally; (what I called “Christian-ish” see above, in which language is mangled and misused). Take “Religion”: this is now defined as a sinful something which atheistic scientists practice because of their “blinkered “approach to the world. They are too blinkered to accept as an objective Truth, everything and anything asserted by a Christian just as it pops into his or her head, or as a result of reading about
similar poppings in the ignorant and superstitious heads of characters in their Holy Book. The “sin” of scientists is that they adopt empirical methods to obtain truths about the world and cosmos, instead of accepting Divine Revelation or the second- hand interpretations of self-interested priests. They lean on Aristotle, a “pagan” Greek philosopher, whose writings, like Plato’s, was adopted by the early Church as unassailable Holy Writ, and in order to give the Church a pedigree which was not exclusively Jewish Old Testament-based. The idea being that arm-chair philosophy and unsound deductive logic using false premises was sufficient to unravel “God’s Creation”,-a presuppositionalist notion in itself. The idea of actually going out into the Field or building a laboratory to actually look at and measure things, took over a thousand years of largely Christian-induced Dark Ages until Galileo came along and so upset the Holy Inquisition that they threatened him with torture, forced him to recant, and confined him to housearrest. Getting back to Atheism: We atheists have adopted a leaf out of the Creationists book,
(same thing as Intelligent Design—don’t be fooled). Whereas their entire “science” of Creationism is based on the premise that “God-did-it”, having established this “scientific” fact by using: 1. Arguments from Ignorance. Ignorance because of a hatred of education generally, of science specifically, and of Evolutionary Theory and Geology in particular. They try to rubbish the “geologic column”, ie the zones of geological time from the Pre-Cambrian to recent times, and also they oppose radiometric dating of fossils, and the geological zones associated with them. 2 Arguments from Personal Incredulity. They cannot see how something could exist “just by chance”;-therefore it didn’t happen that way,-never mind what the world’s educated scientists say. 3. Arguments from, “God- is- a- so- muchnicer- explanation- than “cold science”. The soppy/sentimentalist, lovey-dovey approach which puts subjective feelings exclusively above objective truths.
4. Straw-Man arguments, which misrepresent Science by attacking a false version of a theory , eg of Evolution. 5. Shifting the goal posts and “No True Scotsman” fallacies, which they use to divert attention from their own false claims and blame it on some “fanatics”; (they themselves are never fanatics,-of course). 6. Arguments from Authority-in which any prominent Christian founding father or writer is taken as being on a par almost with God himself when considering his utterances; eg the well known statements of Paul in 1. Corinthians 1: 18-25 against wisdom .ie Philosophy, --which becomes extended in the minds of the faithful to some, or all of modern Science. “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise” (God) Then there are the blatant confessions of deceiving the faithful: Paul again as described by St Jerome: “"I will only mention the Apostle Paul. ... He, then, if anyone, ought to be calumniated; we should speak thus to him:
‘The proofs which you have used against the Jews and against other heretics bear a different meaning in their own contexts to that which they bear in your Epistles. We see passages taken captive by your pen and pressed into service to win you a victory, which in volumes from which they are taken have no controversial bearing at all ... the line so often adopted by strong men in controversy – of justifying the means by the result." (St. Jerome, Epistle to Pammachus, xlviii, 13; N&PNF. vi, 72-73): More examples: Bishop Eusebius, the official propagandist for Constantine, entitles the 32nd Chapter of his 12th Book of Evangelical Preparation: "How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived." Eusebius is notoriously the author of a great many falsehoods – but
then he does warn us in his infamous history: "We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity." (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, chapter 2). John Chrysostom, 5th century theologian and erstwhile bishop of Constantinople, is another: "Do you see the advantage of deceit? For great is the value of deceit, provided it be not introduced with a mischievous intention. In fact action of this kind ought not to be called deceit, but rather a kind of good management, cleverness and skill, capable of finding out ways where resources fail, and making up for the defects of the mind. And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done
great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived." (Treatise On The Priesthood, Book 1). The 5th and 6th centuries were the 'golden age' of Christian forgery. In a moment of shocking candour, the Manichean bishop (and opponent of Augustine) Faustus said: "Many things have been inserted by our ancestors in the speeches of our Lord which, though put forth under his name, agree not with his faith; especially since – as already it has been often proved – these things were written not by Christ, nor [by] his apostles, but a long while after their assumption, by I know not what sort of half Jews, not even agreeing with themselves, who made up their tale out of reports and opinions merely, and yet, fathering the whole upon the names of the apostles of the Lord or on those who were supposed to follow the apostles, they maliciously pretended that they had written their lies and conceits according to them."
"What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church ... a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them." – Martin Luther (Cited by his secretary, in a letter in Max Lenz, ed., Briefwechsel Landgraf Phillips des Grossmüthigen von Hessen mit Bucer, vol. I.)
These are the people who built the Church, and further examples extend all the way from them, through Augustine, to Martin Luther and into recent times, with lies about HIV and condoms as modern examples.
We atheists have recognised the metaphysical vacuity of trying to promote mere disbelief in Abraham’s god as a comprehensive world view, and so we use it merely as a foundation base for constructing naturalistic explanations about the world and positive philosophies;
such as Secular Humanism,--the belief that real human beings come first, before the worship of primitive deities, and Metaphysical Naturalism, ie, the philosophical basis for natural science. This might seem unimportant until you recollect the opposition by the Catholic Church and other assorted Christians to human welfare in the form of contraception, Stem cell research, euthanasia, condoms, HIVcontrol, population limitation, child indoctrination (and abuse), genetically modified crops, surgical anaesthesia (until recently), opposition to the abolition of the Blasphemy Law, and suppression of free speech,- or anything which goes against their dogma that God created Nature and that we should not tamper with it. They are committing the Naturalist Fallacy by claiming that Nature (as allegedly God’s creation)-must be perfect, and we should therefore be “natural”. But civilisation itself is unnatural when compared with a huntergatherer existence, (Adam & Eve?), and Christians appear to enjoy all the benefits of scientific civilisation, like the rest of us. In so doing they demonstrate that they are antihuman and anti-life itself, and only concerned with a fictitious future life, and that we should
have no concern for this one, or store up treasures on earth. Strangely, this does not seem to prevent them from living surrounded by sumptuous luxury and enjoying a few palaces, tax-exemptions and unwarranted status within some governments, and in medieval times profiting from a roaring trade in the sale of Indulgences, extortion, and the mass production of holy relics. I can hear the uproar arising from those Christians who routinely use the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, in addition to all their other logical fallacies, (more on that later). They will be saying, “but we are not like that, we are not all fundamentalist fanatics, they are not the real Christians, we don’t despise education or revel in ignorance, on the contrary we Christians created Science, art, music, poetry, literature, civilisation itself “,you name it, they will say they did it, and of course give (or pretend to give) the credit to the Trinity. The inconvenient truth is that the basics of the human accomplishments to which Christianity lays claim were prior achievements of earlier civilisations notably, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman.
Within the Christian era including the Scholastic period, there was only continued speculation about God, his supposed Nature, and Mankind’s alleged relationship with him, which had been started anyway by the Greeks, and the Roman statesman, Cicero in his “Nature of the Gods”,--and of course frantic attempts to prove God’s existence by Bishop Anselm’s very shaky Ontological argument, and Thomas Aquinas’ Five proofs, which were just variations on the usual arguments from Design, and the First Cause argument. In fact Aquinas himself demolished the Ontological Argument shortly after its inception. Briefly,this argument says that there must be a God because I can imagine Him, and that I can conceive of Something greater than which nothing more perfect could exist. All one has to do to rebut this argument is to imagine the opposite, or to imagine something different in the same way,-like say, a perfect island. Nowadays there are a few more specious arguments such as the grand-sounding Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG),--which has been rebutted by “The Transcendental Argument for the NonExistence of God “ (TANG).
Argument from Existence is another First Cause Argument. In these two it is asserted that science and the comprehensibility (so far), of the Universe means that God created Logic. Presumably this means that before God created it, there was no logic; but how could God himself be a logically structured Being capable of logically creating a logical Universe before there was any Logic? Similarly, in order for God to create Existence, he himself would have to have prior existence, but how could that be possible before he existed in order create Existence?--Oh dear!another chicken and egg situation. However, never fear, Christian theologians to the rescue; the answer is obvious: God exists in a different realm of Existence, God’s Existence,--which of course is different form old everyday human Existence. Similarly God’s logic is not Human logic, God’s ways are not Human ways, God’s Truth is different from human truth, --or there are many different kinds of truth. Likewise contradictory or uncomplimentary statements in the Bible are “interpreted” so as
to mean something different, or even opposite. One Catholic theologian, possibly Tertullian, claimed that if the Church said “black was white” then it was. You may have noticed that Christians have created a mystical “spiritual” parallel dual world alongside the real one, in order to try and justify the ravings of Paul, the Gospel writers, and other such biblical and postbiblical writers,-such as Descartes, who are largely responsible for the “psycho-physical parallelism”, or the co-existing “spiritual” realm which complicates our lives. Of course it is not new; the ancient Egyptians had at least three different types of “soul” or spirit, - the concept, or “meme” being carried forward and adopted into the Christian era. From there it was a short step to a “Holy Spirit”, or a disembodied Logos or Word, which magically was sufficient to create the Universe a mere 6000 years or so ago,--or a bit more; one must be charitable. This period of time since the Creation was arrived at by Bishop Ussher by counting generations of mostly mythical characters in Genesis, including Adam and Eve, and assigning to them various improbable lifespans, often hundreds of years each.
Still he was a Bishop of the Church of God, so it must be true. As Cain was the only recorded replicator, having killed his brother and lost contact with his parents, one wonders whom he married. Perhaps there was life outside of God’s jurisdiction in the Garden of Eden after all. But where did she come from? Of course modern sophisticated Christians will dismiss all this picturesque nonsense as symbolic, or allegorical, ie conveying a message; what message exactly? Many of them openly dismiss the Virgin Birth, -even Anglican bishops. Even the Resurrection is viewed as “symbolic” in some quarters.,-but this is not so surprising as some of the earliest Christian sects rejected Christ’s divinity, along with his physical resurrection, and it is thought by some that even Paul believed only in a “spiritual” resurrection,--whatever that is. What then is left? As Paul himself said right at the start of it all, “If Christ be not risen, then our faith is vain” (1. Corinthians 15). So naturally, the new church had to make jolly well sure that Christ was seen to be risen, whether he liked it or not,-in order that Christians might attain their ambition to destroy or takeover the Roman Empire, the
Whore of Babylon itself, the Great Satan and a cruel pagan Empire,-at least to those who subversively wanted to create a State within a State, owing allegiance to God, rather than to the Emperor (who was himself, a rival god). Eventually they succeeded, under Constantine, -and then the fun began, and was continued under Theodosius and his successors (briefly interrupted by Julian the Apostate). “Pagan” literature, temples, shrines, statues of the gods, were destroyed, defaced and vandalised, books were burned. Justinian, around 529 ordered the final closure of all pagan temples everywhere in what was left of the Empire,-which was a great blow to those centres of learning and culture. The Athenian Academy was closed in the 500’s AD, and a least one pagan philosopher, Hypatia in Alexandria was lynched by a Christian mob in 415 AD),- with the probable connivance of Bishop Cyril, and the Olympic games were cancelled until modern times. The Greek ideal of the perfectly developed man, sound in Mind and body, was replaced by veneration of hideous, ignorant, diseased and smelly Monks and hermits, who flagellated themselves and mortified the flesh in every way, so as to gain spirituality. More likely,-such “spirituality”
was the result of hallucinations and altered states of consciousness induced by disease, infected wounds, cold, starvation and drugs,like magic mushrooms. It seems a coincidence that St John of Patmos who wrote Revelations, lived on a island where hallucinogenic mushrooms grow. In the 1950’s Aldous Huxley emulated this practice by taking mescaline and recording his experiences in his book “Doors of Perception”. One cannot blame it all on the barbarians,-they had soon become Christianised anyway, to the Arian persuasion. They were not savages, and many of them admired Roman Law and culture and wanted to preserve it. Unfortunately the Church decided it rather fancied the Athanasian version of Christianity, and actively persecuted the Arian and other “heretical” versions, eg Pelagians, Marcionites, Monophysites, Docetists and many others who would not toe the new Christian Roman line for the sake of political unity. There was no resulting political unity anyway. In the general destruction that followed, and the fragmentation and depletion of the Army in favour of a Monk’s or hermit’s way of life, and the loss of former Provinces, there was
nothing much left over, except a truncated Catholic State, which without a true Roman Army to command, managed to blackmail by Excommunication, and otherwise enforce its will on superstitious new barbarian states, by threats and mercenary foreign armies, in a mostly unsuccessful attempt to reclaim lost Roman Provinces. Rome itself was abandoned, and weak and ineffectual Emperors set up residence in Ravenna and Milan instead. Much later, rival Popes and anti Popes operating from Rome and Avignon in France demonstrated the failure of the Jesus cult to promote political unity and peace. So having destroyed the opposition, it was the only show left in town and so it could claim credit for just about anything it wished, including the remnants of Roman civilisation with which it impressed the natives from its monastic bases in the countryside and from Rome. Many of these assertions are fairly common knowledge to some Christians; other ones will dismiss them, and retreat into their cosy faith, not wanting to be inconvenienced by mere facts. They will claim Christianity has modernised; but how can the unchanging Word of God be so altered? And how can it
become split into thousands of competing sects, as well as the major Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox divisions, and now the furore in the Anglican Church over women and gay priests? Sometimes it is said that Christianity is not the problem,-it is Christians; but did not Jesus say (allegedly)—“By their fruits ye shall know them”. Christians are the fruit of Christianity, with all its crusading violence and intolerance, its vindictiveness to those who think otherwise, and pursuit of them beyond the grave. But it does have a good side, Jesus loves you,-just so long as you obey,-and for God’s sake don’t think, just believe. So what then is Christianity? Well it all goes back to Adam and Eve, mythical people in a mythical Garden of Eden who were seduced by a talking snake into eating forbidden fruit which God had placed within easy reach, while knowing omnisciently that they would help themselves although he had told them not to, and then he could punish them. For this, all their descendents were condemned to suffer through this Original Sin, from which they then had to be cleansed by the blood sacrifice of an innocent God-Man
who may actually have been God himself, or his own Son, or a Ghost or all three at once,some 6000 years or more later,--by which time most of recorded human history was over and done with, and people had forgotten all about the Original Sin of their far distant ancestors, for which they were now told to pay the price of Atonement to achieve Redemption, usually for a material fee, in order to be “saved” and never die,--despite the obvious fact that people around them were dying continually,--but apparently only in the Flesh,--which I would have thought was death enough for anyone. But no,-the dead could now be pursued beyond the grave into eternal punishment by the new loving Son of God, if they put a foot wrong by even thinking the wrong thoughts. (If thou lust after a woman in your heart, you have still committed adultery with her”— Jesus.) This idea was reinforced by St Augustine; even unbaptised infants were damned to Hellfire. But Augustine was a kind man,-he invented Purgatory where these infants could while away their time indefinitely until pure enough to join God in Heaven, from which they could be entertained by the suffering of the Damned in Hell. Similarly, Limbo
Infantum and Limbo Patrem were invented by these Church Fathers where souls could be temporarily stored while God made up his Divine Mind who to burn in Hell and whom to allow to sit on his right end for Eternity; (I can’t wait). I’m not making this up you know! So having touched a bit on Theology without getting bogged down in obfuscatory details about “Homoousia”, and “Transfiguration” and “Logos”, “Gnosticism” and “Hypostatic Union”, which we can leave to the professional Fairyologists, let us consider “Atheology”,--an artificial subject born from its imaginary Theological parent. Atheism is as old as Theism. Socrates was condemned partly for atheism, which just goes to show that one can be an atheist with regard to any kind of god, not just the Jewish one. Christians were reviled as atheists because they mocked the Gods of Rome and other imported deities like Isis and Mithras. At least the “pagan” Romans were tolerant of all religions, until they eventually received Christ into their hearts.
So they are nearly there already; just one more god to discard and they will be fully paid up atheists too. “A-theos” means simply, “without god”, ie “godless”, and that is all it means. It does not mean we are, immoral horned and hoofed demons from Hell. On the contrary, Atheist morality is superior because it is Humanistic, ie concerned with relating to our fellow humans, not Theistic, trying to placate an intolerant judgemental God who can’t desist from watching your every move. We are capable of a completely secular morality based upon our common social relationships. Nor are secularists necessarily atheist; secularists can be religious but believe in the complete separation of Church and State and freedom of religion for all, as well as freedom from religion for those who reject it. We are social animals and evolved social morality just as did our nearest Primate relatives, Chimps, Bonobos, Gorillas, as well as Baboons and other Monkey species who are our cousins,--not direct ancestors. Also the same applies to many non-Primate species, eg dogs.
Morality is innate, and based upon fair trade, and reciprocal altruism, and kin selection for our nearest relatives, and giving honorary kin status to unrelated “friends”. These conclusions are based upon modern psychology, social anthropology, genetic relatedness and unbiased common sense. On the subject of Ethics and morality,-- I hear you clamouring to ask “what about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, the French Revolution Terror”? Before answering, I might retort, “what about the Catholic suppression of Heresy in it’s early centuries as well as the medieval Holy Inquisition, the Crusades (eight of them!), Ivan the Terrible (a Christian Tsar), Vlad Dracul,who is said to have gone back to his prayers after an enjoyable morning of eye-gouging and impaling. The Teutonic Knight’s own crusades in northern Russia, (which were defeated by Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod),-immortalised by Eisenstein‘s film and Prokofiev’s music,-- the modern wars in Africa mostly between Muslims and Christians, the medieval wars, Revocation of the Edict of
Nantes and persecution of the Huguenots, the burning of Jeanne d’Arc, and of numerous early scientists and dissenters, Cranmer, Giordano Bruno, Michael Servetus, and ( (almost) Galileo? The point is, what else can one expect from an atheist? (as my mother used to ask,- meaning me). But on the other hand Christians are supposed to know better and to follow Jesus (in his more gentle mode). To do a body count and say Stalin killed more people than the Crusades is silly,-it ignores modern weaponry. Can anyone doubt that if the Crusaders had had nuclear weapons, poison gas and carpet bombing, they would not have used them to recapture the Holy Land from Islam? God can be used to justify any atrocity. Hitler & Co Hitler was not an atheist, he was a Catholic of life- long membership, who signed a Concordat with the Vatican, and his birthday was celebrated by the Pope every year until the end. He also had a weird semi-pagan religion
of his own, and notions of Romantic Teutonic chivalric ethics. He was not even a Darwinist; he does not mention Darwin in Mein Kampf or his speeches. Occasionally he was unkind to Christians for political reasons, but his speeches and book are full of Christian sentiments and admonitions. Stalin Stalin was an atheist, but he was brought up in an orthodox seminary where he no doubt learned the typically Russian, (or Georgian) authoritarian, autocratic attitude of Tsarist Russia, ruled as it was by a God-Tsar, and where the Church-State alliance kept the Russian serfs in a state of abject poverty and suppression,-( as ordained by God, and so much agreed with by Victorians,--(“the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate”)). Stalin was a politician, and he favoured or persecuted the Church and Christians as politics demanded. The Orthodox Church was a rival for the hearts and Minds of the people, and it had to be contained one way or another. Do people start rampant murder if they don’t happen to believe in the God of Abraham and his alleged Son? Do I? How many people do
you think I have raped and murdered since I got up this morning? What nonsense. The truth is that people behave because of early social conditioning, peer pressure, and the fear of punishment by society (not God). We need police on the streets, not Angels with flaming swords. Stalin’s actions were on account of political and economic ambitions. I doubt if he was thinking “ I am an atheist,-yippee, more killing to-day”. Likewise in the case of Mao and Pol Pot. Believers don’t seem to realise that Mao and Pol Pot were bought up in the Buddhist tradition, and therefore were never Jesusworshippers in the first place. Traditional Buddhism is a godless “religion” or worldview So if they were influenced early on by Buddhism does that mean that Buddhists are evil murdering atheists? Tell that to the Dalai Lama. It was the Communist ideology of historical determinism that was the real culprit. Hegel began it, and Marx developed it. Society had to be moulded by force to fit Marxist46
Leninism. Religion or lack of it was incidental to the process. Marx and Engels were atheists, although Marx like so many Victorians and pre-Victorians had been a Christian. He understood that religion was the “opium of the people”, and showed proper Humanistic concern for the oppressed workers,- but thought religion would eventually disappear; they were not murderers themselves,-they advocated violent revolution but not deliberate murder. This was originally a force for liberty and equality for all, and democracy, freedom of religion and liberation from the tyrannical and wasteful Church-State alliance. The French Revolution This was based upon the French Enlightenment Encyclopaedists who were atheist and deists, but as tends to happen in human affairs, it was eventually high-jacked by extremists, the Jacobins, who instigated the Terror, and which culminated in Napoleon’s wars of conquest. Robespierre, who was always ready with the Guillotine, tried to reinstate a form of egalitarian religious
worship, which was viewed suspiciously by the populace The activist Thomas Paine, usually vilified as an atheist (in fact a Deist), pleaded for Louis XVI to be spared the guillotine, and earned himself a spell in a French gaol for his clemency. Notes: Lynching of Hypatia—Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, -and his primary sources including the writings of Ammianus Marcellinus.
Chapter 2 Creationism/Intelligent Design
“Ever since Darwin”, to quote the title of the book by the late Stephen J. Gould, there has been an uproar, punctuated by truces. Darwin himself was sufficiently intimidated by Christians to delay publication of “On the Origin of Species”,-by 20 years. Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s Bulldog” had an unholy spat with “Soapy Sam” Wilberforce, apparently causing a lady in the audience to faint because a Bishop was being spoken to in such a manner. The next round was the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee in 1925, in which Evolution and Geology were pitted against the Bible in a contest summarised as the “Rock of Ages” versus “The Ages of Rocks”. After this intellectual defeat Creationism went to ground until around 1967 when America went into a panic over the launch of Sputnik. This required a massive investment in US science in order to catch up with the Russians,including the teaching of Evolution in schools,--which was too much for the Christian Fundamentalists of the Bible Belt.
So a certain qualified Lawyer rose up, and teamed up with a Mathematician, (neither of them was a natural scientist, eg biologist) to re-invent Creationism under the new title of Intelligent Design. This was intelligently designed in order to bypass the First Amendment which forbade teaching of religion in schools, and ensured separation of Church and State. Other qualified personnel, even scientists joined up with them, notably a genuine biochemist, Michael Behe and the whole war was re-started culminating in the Dover, Pennsylvania trial in which Michael Behe’s book, “Darwin’s Black Box”, and his theory of “Irreducible Complexity” was torn to shreds,-metaphorically speaking, in a testimony by Prof. Kenneth Miller, whose own book “Finding Darwin’s God” effectively demolished Behe’s “Irreducible Complexity” thesis, This was the result of a cunning attempt by Creationists to infiltrate a School Board, and was opposed by concerned parents. As a result, the Board members had to resign and a new one elected. To his credit Prof Miller did a wonderful demolition job despite being a “cradle Catholic” himself.
It makes one wonder though about those 40% of world scientists who believe in God (of some sort). It is as if two opposing theories of the origin of things can be stored in pigeonhole compartments in the brain without causing a schizophrenic breakdown. This appears to be how the Mind works in some people. It seems a coincidence that the US, home of fundamentalist Christianity should throw up so many believing scientists. My theory is that they are indoctrinated from birth, and then come into science with the intention of destroying it from within,-for Jesus; except for the admirable Prof Kenneth Miller of course,though he still hangs onto his God for “theological reasons” (not scientific ones. We had a brief e-mail chat not so long ago). More charitably, I could also concede that there are some believers who go into Science in order to discover more about “God’s creation”; this notion is of course assumed beforehand as a pre-supposition, and therefore seems rational to them at the time, in their uninformed, ie-ignorant state. But one would think that having become aware of scientific explanations, they might modify their faith position;-but no apparently not. So therefore
they are not being so scientifically rational as they would like us to believe. I should point out that 40% of believing scientists means 60% of unbelieving ones, and if one looks at the top US scientists in the National Academy of Science,--the proportion of atheist and agnostic scientists rises to 93%,and in the British Royal Society it rises to a staggering proportion of about 96.7%. How does a God act in Biochemistry, including molecular biology and genetics? Does he personally move atoms and molecules around, or does he have Cherubim (you know, -those fat babies with wings),-to do it for him? And how does a qualified mathematician make the blunder (unless deliberate),-of trying to use Probability Theory after the event (of the existence of complex life)? It is as if I claimed a miracle because I, and only I, won the lottery, despite the fact that someone has to win it. Or,-supposing I went out in the street and saw a car with a specific number-plate, say ARG 42,--and then threw up my arms and cried “Miracle”!—of all the billions of number-plates in the world I just happened to see ARG 42;--and on a Thursday too—double miracle!
It all sounds to me like a conspiracy to pervert science. You may think it all a storm in a tea- cup, but nowadays we have ample evidence of what irrational belief combined with explosive power can do,-and the US, headed by Bush has explosive power in abundance. We should all be very afraid. There are in the US, fundamentalists who are awaiting the Rapture, an event in which those who are “saved”, will be taken up directly into Heaven,(no matter what they are doing at the time,--even piloting a Jumbo-jet. Many believe that in order for Christ to return, or the Rapture proceed, it will first be necessary for the Jews to be converted. Another way to inaugurate the Second Coming would be to start a nuclear war, in which the Forces of Righteousness (themselves naturally), -would triumph, and Christ would reign in Jerusalem; in other words another Crusade. George Bush let slip this repressed desire in his inadvertent mention of a Crusade in Iraq, -site of the original Whore of Babylon itself. Nor is I.D. confined to the US. In my small home island of Jersey (UK), population about 90,000,)-we have at least 4 aggressive proselytising Creationists known to me
personally, and lots of others who think Jesus rules, and that Genesis is literally true. Rational science still has a struggle ahead. You may ask, “But don’t lots of Christians including the Pope, accept Evolution?”—well sort of,-but only if they can tweak it, and say God created and sustains it, and inserts a “soul” somewhere along the line of human evolution. They either deny, attack, or try to absorb it. This polluted version of Evolution is no part of Darwin’s original thesis. It goes under the name of “Theistic Evolution,-and I would like to insert my own comments on it at this point,--something which I prepared earlier:
1. Recent research demonstrates higher semen viscosity in primate species that have a high degree of female promiscuity. In such species there is more intense sperm competition between rival male’s semen for the female’s attention. Natural selection encourages the evolution of increased sperm viscosity as an aid to preventing successful fertilization of the female by subsequent male lovers. This means that promiscuity is a driving force in primate Evolution. If there is a God in charge of Evolution, then he is 55
therefore condoning immorality by encouraging promiscuity. 2. 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. If God is in charge of Evolution he is therefore either a monumental blunderer, or an evil sadist, or a squanderer of natural resources. 3. All animals, plants, and fungi live by murder and cannibalism,- ie- feeding off each other;- humans are not exempt either. Could God not do better then this? 4. Some animals exhibit deliberate bloodsports lust, by toying with prey, or by unnecessary overkill; eg cats, and foxes. Did God arrange this? New-born pups are carried off by Jackals, Hyenas , birds of prey etc. 5. It is known by animal breeders, eg of dogs, that specific desirable traits of appearance and behaviour can be produced by Artificial Selection within a few generations. If there is a Creator God whose goal was to produce an intelligent, conscious Human. He would and could have done this likewise, within a few generations of planned Artificial Selection; instead it has taken about 70 million years, (starting from the 56
first Mammals),-of haphazard, multiplepath random production of humanoids to achieve a small proportion of rational beings,-eg (Scientists and Philosophers), amongst an otherwise irrational Human species. 6. Chimps have been discovered to have rudimentary culture and language, and tool use, and not to have any qualitatively different attributes from Humankind, and even better short-term memory than humans. They also commit deliberate murder on their fellows. Capuchin monkeys break open nuts with rocks. Corvids also use tools. 7. The whole concept of the Natural selection of random variations, ie. Darwinian Evolution is a cruel process, relying on violence, suffering, and enormous waste among living things,-including the obviously sentient and human-like “higher” social animals, eg Whales, Dolphins, cats, dogs, and of course primates. The Ichneumon fly lays its eggs in a live caterpillar, and its grubs devour the caterpillar from the inside out. There is the waste of unused sperms, seeds and fruits and massive infant mortality;--and then God encourages further waste in the case of Onan having to practice 57
Coitus interruptus and “spill his seed on the ground”! 8. Theists try to suggest that there is a purpose, and that God created and guides Evolution. But as Evolution (the Natural Selection of random variations) is therefore a random process (proved by the 99% extinctions as above),-- and the changes in the natural environment which does the selecting are also random, eg solar flares, asteroid and comet strikes, earthquakes and volcanoes, hurricanes etc which cause mass extinctions from time to time,- and which all have naturalistic causes,--how then can a God be said to guide such chaotic processes? It is a self-contradiction, and is made with the desperate hope of tacking “God” onto all aspects of Nature, because of the self-interest of the religious establishment. I always thought God was supposed to have created order out of chaos,-not chaos out of order. They ask the question “Why”? There is no “why?”,- no purpose. Blind naturalistic Evolution demonstrates that fully. “Why” questions are semantic trickery that can usually be resolved as part of “How “questions. If turns creation stories upon their heads to say in effect that God created chaos out of Order(his own self) so as to re-create order,58
when the Bible states clearly that it was the other way round,--order came out of chaos. Although natural selection overall appears random, nevertheless, at a lower level of explanation, all evolutionary change is finely tuned by selective competition, sexual selection, and a kind of arms war among and between species. 9. If God set up Evolution then he knew what he was doing. If he set it up, and continues to “guide” it,-he has exhibited blood lust and lack of compassion for his creation. If he set it up then walked away and washed his hands of it,- then he just shows cruel indifference and irresponsibility. 10. Hundreds of thousands of different species of beetles have been documented. This is compatible with Evolution, but totally absurd if created by a God. One would have to ask him-Why?. Christians would no doubt assert that it is a demonstration of his power and love. So should I follow his example and tip a skip-full of live Cockroaches onto our living-room floor, and explain to my wife that I did it as an act of love? 11. We know that herbivorous animals like rabbits, sheep, goats etc can feed off vegetation and digest cellulose. So why did 59
God find it necessary to create carnivorous animals who cannot digest grass etc, but instead tear each other to pieces and devour each other,-including we humans, who have to farm animals, fish and poultry and shoot and slaughter them for our food, thereby causing animal suffering and the spread of parasitic, bacterial and virus diseases among animals and humans,--eg Bird flu? 12.A successful scientific theory is something that explains and predicts by itself,-it is self-sufficient. A theory which needs to be created and sustained and guided is not a theory at all; it is a contradiction. Christians like to have their cake and eat it . For the reasons given above, Evolution implies Atheism, so Christians have to choose; they can either have Theism or Evolution, but not Theistic Evolution,- it is a nonsense.
I am occasionally asked to boost a local Church choir at weddings,-which I am happy to do, in order to help my fellow men and women (my Humanist slip is showing),--and because I like singing; though I baulked at a hymn title I noticed called “Jesu is crying”.
Fortunately it was not on the program; otherwise I would have been sick. But the thing about these weddings is that they are mostly about God and Jesus, with the bride and groom being grudgingly mentioned from time to time. The hymns and prayers ( I aloofly ignore the prayers) are all traditionalist, and emphasise the living presence of Jesus, and God’s creation from magic. Not much progress there then in the last 300 years or more of rational thought;--or perhaps it is allegorical after all. Back to Theistic Evolution: I quote here the Catholic attitude to Evolutionary theory, of which “Theistic Evolution is illustrative: In an editorial in the New York Times on 7 July 2005 Schönborn criticized "neoDarwinian" theories of evolution as incompatible with Catholic teaching: “Statement on Evolution” "EVER since 1996, when Pope John Paul II said that evolution (a term he did not define) was 'more than just a hypothesis,' defenders of neo-Darwinian dogma have often invoked the
supposed acceptance -- or at least acquiescence -- of the Roman Catholic Church when they defend their theory as somehow compatible with Christian faith. "But this is not true. The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things. Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense -- an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection -- is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science." This statement unleashed considerable controversy, including public criticism ofSchönborn's views by the director of the Vatican Observatory, Fr George Coyne SJ, and a response by Catholic physicist Stephen Barr in the Catholic periodical "First Things", to which Schönborn in turn replied.
Schönborn later clarified that while "unguided, unplanned" evolution is not consistent with Christian faith, he has no problem with a theistic (God-guided) evolution, see Theistic Evolution), recognizes the great work of Darwin and the progress of science, that science and faith answer different questions, and they need not conflict if each respects the other's world view. In an October 2005 catechetical lecture he stated: “Darwin undoubtedly scored a brilliant coup, and it remains a great oeuvre [work] in the history of ideas. With an astounding gift for observation, enormous diligence, and mental prowess, he succeeded in producing one of that history's most influential works. He could already see in advance that his research would create many areas of endeavor. Today one can truly say that the 'evolution' paradigm has become, so to speak, a 'master key,' extending itself within many fields of knowledge....I see no difficulty in joining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, but under the prerequisite that the borders of scientific theory are maintained. In the citations given above (from Julian Huxley, Will Provine, Peter
Atkins), it is unequivocally the case that such have been violated. When science adheres to its own method, it cannot come into conflict with faith. But perhaps one finds it difficult to stay within one's territory, for we are, after all, not simply scientists but also human beings, with feelings, who struggle with faith, human beings, who seek the meaning of life. And thus as natural scientists we are constantly and inevitably bringing in questions reflecting world views....I am thankful for the immense work of the natural sciences. Their furthering of our knowledge boggles the mind. They do not restrict faith in the creation; they strengthen me in my belief in the Creator and in how wisely and wonderfully He has made all things." ----which just goes to show the basic incompatibily of Christianity with Science, and of the Catholic and other Churches’ repeated attemps to take over scientific human knowledge for Jesus and it’s own selfpreservation:-especially the last sentence: “ They do not restrict faith in the creation; they strengthen me in my belief in the Creator
and in how wisely and wonderfully He has made all things." --which demonstrates simply how they cannot let go of their pre-suppositionalist Dogma about a humanoid superman who lives Somewhere ( God knows where), and who automatically bypasses all human creativity by insisting, vicariously though his Catholic agents,--that “He–did-it”. There is no way that a scientific theory of gradualistic natural evolution over a period of 4 billion years, can be made compatible with deliberate creation by an intelligent Agent over 6 days, about 6000 years ago. It is delusional to pretend otherwise.
Chapter 3. Theology and Atheology
Interesting things are occurring in the ancient land of Canaan, where Israel Finkelstein has been doing archaeology and helping to adjust and augment biblical tradition. It seems that after the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians around 702 BC, the refugees poured south to Judah, and greatly swelled the sparse population of Jerusalem, which under King Hezekiah underwent social and religious reforms and development, -- which continued under his successor Josiah, until the latter, the new hope for Judah, was killed in a skirmish with the Egyptians around 609 BC. By this time monotheism was more firmly established, and the cults of the other traditional gods had been destroyed, and the Torah established as the official Jewish Testament, and all was well until the exile to Babylon around 587 BC. From this one can perhaps see that much later the emperor Constantine and his successors, having become acquainted with Jewish history via his new Christian friends, decided to copy Hezekiah and Josiah by purging the Empire of foreign gods and heretical versions of the new
Christian cult, with the same political purpose,--strength through unity. It has been claimed that only because of Judaeo-Christian monotheism was the West able to invent science and achieve political and technological dominance over Islam and the Far East. This may be partly true, but not for theological reasons, ie because Jesus and the God of Israel were watching and guiding the process,--but rather because strict monotheism with its God, represented as Kings and Popes, provided the social structure for large scale reforms. However the ancient polytheistic Greeks developed Philosophy, mathematics and early science without benefit of a long lasting stable Church-State alliance. The Chinese did great things with a powerful Emperor figure-head, but minus Jesus or a divine God. The Muslims likewise, with strict monotheism and occasional political unity, but no Jesus,- and the ancient Egyptians had their powerful god- king Pharaohs, but still no Jesus,-but were able to accomplish massive engineering works like the pyramids and the temple of Amen-Ra at Karnak. Still no actual God directing things though,--and even less Jesus.
One could make a good case that Western development occurred because of the Renaissance recovery of lost classical antiquity, the Reformation which repulsed the Catholic domination,- the necessity to find new ocean routes to the Far East, since the Turks had captured Constantinople. This undoubtedly spurred new science and technology, ship-building, weaponry and navigational astronomy. And then came the Industrial Revolution, the Chartists, trades unions and Suffragettes. Christianity formerly comfortable with slavery throughout it’s whole history, now jumped on the bandwagon of the above social reforms and claimed to have abolished Slavery;-mainly because William Wilberforce was a Christian (wasn’t nearly everyone at that time?). The gulf widened between Roman Catholicism and the new Protestant cults of Lutherism, Calvinism, Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Methodism, and now the affair of women and gay priests, as mentioned earlier. The Word of God?—which one? The Catholics have Transubstantiation, in which the wafer and wine become the literal body and blood of Christ.
Recently in 2008, an tremendous row occurred when someone at a Catholic Mass held in the University of Central Florida,having received the Host (wafer, Eucharist)) into his mouth, removed it, ran off out of the Church with it, kept it in a Ziplock bag for a week before surrendering it, and was pursued by a furious congregation for desecrating the Host, -and later received death threats. As a popular America writer PZ Myers later observed; “it’s only a “Cracker for Chrissake;something to die for?” Big problems also arise if the priest accidentally drops the Host on the ground. The Protestants are more sensible; they have “Consubstantiation, where God is only present in spirit. Invisible spirits, and gods are immune to desecration,--something which the Jews and later the Muslims caught onto quite soon,whereas temples and statues are easy targets. Talking of Spirits: How does one define spiritual or a “Spirit”,--it can only be defined in terms of what it is not,--ie Material. There is no other positive definition, other than fictitious embellishments such as “ethereal”, or lacking in substance, invisible,-of course. On the other hand “spiritual” can be used to
describe a taste for music and poetry, and wondering about one’s place in the Cosmos,-though I should prefer to put that under metaphysics, epistemology, or philosophy generally. But “Spirit” seems to have no real meaning, and is often muddled with “Soul” or even “Mind”. This is part of the body/ Mind dualism which some theistic philosophers from Plato to Descartes have inflicted upon us. If anyone has watched Pat Condell on U-Tube, he gives a highly entertaining description of how when he has nothing better to do, he is always whiling away the time by “denying the Holy Spirit” at every opportunity,--usually while waiting at a bus-stop. And yet the sky does not fall, despite the threats in Mark and Luke about how “denying the Holy Spirit” will be punished. Much has been made about this denying of the Holy Spirit, as this strikes at the whole foundation of Christianity. As for Theology in general, Richard Dawkins has dismissed it as akin to “Fairy-ology”, or Santa Claus-ology. One can be an expert on the subject of fairies, and know all about their customs and folklore, but still be discussing fictional characters, knowledge of which is vacuous and meaningless. Likewise, there are
experts on Sherlock Holmes, and we may possess artefacts and memorabilia such as his pipe, slippers, magnifying glass and violin, and know his address in Baker Street, and have the testimony of his faithful disciple (St). Dr Watson,--but in the end it is just picturesque nonsense, for entertainment purposes only. Intelligent Theologians recognise all these difficulties and try to play down God as Superman, preferring instead to make him more mystical and abstract, a vague deistic Creator or the “Ground of our Being”,-whatever that is. One might ask if they are so intelligent educated, multilingual etc,--then why be a Theologian? There are various reasons, like early indoctrination, an easy living (possibly), power and influence, a desire to help starving natives in tropical climates, which may not be appreciated especially if it comes with a pricetag of compulsory conversion,- inability to find another career late in life, or a desire to meet people and talk down to them,-or more improbably, actually be the mouthpiece of some God or other; though why these Gods cannot speak for themselves is beyond me.
An invisible, non-tactile, speechless and inaudible God seems somehow to me to be a very deficient character. Can God ride a bicycle?-no?—I can;--perhaps you should worship me instead? I once asked someone that if such a God is in your room, but is completely undetectable, even with modern instruments, then how does His being in your room differ from him not being in your room? The answer was that He knows you are there,-but he still could not be bothered to say hello. Are there no manners in heaven? More Proofs of God? We have mentioned some of the arguments for God’s existence. The fact that there are so many of them shows the weakness of Christianity, as does also the fact that it takes billions of words to try and persuade us that a God exists, and Jesus is his divine Son; surely it should be self –evident? These theologians do protest too much. Talking of evidence brings us back to the two most favourite traditional arguments: 1. Argument from Design (The Teleological argument)
2. First cause (Cosmological Argument) These two are still trotted out regularly, indeed all the more so nowadays since (largely atheistic) scientists have done all the hard work of discovery. So now theologians can get out of their arm-chairs, stretch themselves, and stick their God and Jesus labels all over other peoples work,-and claim it for Jesus. This of course is traditional. Since it’s invention Christians have re-labelled and reconsecrated pagan temples,-when they weren’t destroying them, flown their flag on other peoples monuments or built chapels on top of them, as in our own Hougie Bie megalithic monument in Jersey. No doubt they will one day manage to carve crucifixes on Stonehenge, just like their systematic defacement of carved ancient Egyptian hymns to the Gods on monuments and the mutilation and amputation of erect penises on some tomb paintings and sculptures, depicting fertility. The Design argument can be rebutted entirely on logical grounds, -and was done so by Hume and Kant long before Charles Darwin demonstrated empirically how Nature designs
itself. But Intelligent Design has taken advantage of the new understanding of molecular biology to claim that it could not happen “by itself”, and that some biochemical systems are “irreducibly complex”, i.e.-if you take away one essential part then the whole system becomes non-functional. Therefore God-did-it. Or they say things like: “Look at that Rose” (Tree, peacock tail etc) It couldn’t happen “by chance”, therefore God. Quite apart from logical rebuttals,-Evolution has now advanced to be the “inference to the best explanation” for Nature’s complexity. This is abductive logic, based on empirical evidence. Inductive logic makes the reasonable claim that more often than not, events which have always happened within recorded cosmic time, like over the last 13.7 billion years since the Big bang,--will probably continue like that for a good while. This is a probability argument, not a deductive proof; (the sudden appearance of a black Swan could destroy the claim that all Swans are white). But it works well enough for science to produce from it a highly consistent and
workable model of the Universe and the events which occur within it. Most people are happy to fly in a jet airliner, confident that the inductive laws of aerodynamics will continue to be valid, at least for the length of their flight,--or that God won’t suddenly appear and perform a magic miracle and turn the plane into a jelly-fish or something. There are no final proofs of anything outside of mathematics,--and even that has to be qualified since Gödel’s theorem showed that there are true propositions which cannot be proved. Creationists expect too much,-like also demanding a continuous running video of evolutionary change, and not accepting the reasonable indication of evolution as demonstrated in some fossil sequences which contain clear “transitional” forms from one species or Genus to another, as in Horses, Humans, and Whales. They don’t do this because they are stupid, (not all of them anyway),- but merely because they are bigoted. (The word “bigot” is derived from “Bei Gott”,--which is what German evangelising monks were noted for saying). How can Lawyers, mathematicians and biochemists be stupid?—unless of course there
was something wrong with their qualifications or the (Creationist) Universities and Academies at which they qualified. Or perhaps they have not been reading the latest scientific journals, and are about 2000 years out of date. The First Cause Argument is the one that is concerned with the origin of the Cosmos, and ultimately of Everything. The basic problem is how and why something came from nothing. The Catholics of course have got it all wrapped up, and from the comfort of their armchairs have concluded that God created the Cosmos “ex Nihilo”,-ie from Nothing. But let’s look a bit closer: Much ado about Nothing The following article was prepared by me as a Philosophical lecture to my small U3A group, the University of Third Age ( i.e. 60+ and senile), but borrowed from another author on a web-site, whose named I have misplaced: acknowledgements to him anyway). The use of the word Nothing' has a very special meaning, unlike our every day use of the word. It means here quite literally nothing,
the complete absence of everything. By definition then nothing must be an infinite void. If nothing exists it would HAVE to be infinite. This is a result of it not being allowed any boundaries, as a boundary would place a limit on nothing's size and furthermore would also indicate that there was something existing on the 'other ' side of the boundary, apart from the boundary itself existing. This would be contrary to our definition of both infinite and of nothing. This also, it should be noted, excludes anything existing in any other dimension, or dimensions, as a dimension would then be a boundary. Nothing then, when described as an infinite void, excludes all possibility of anything else existing, anywhere. This is what having nothing would mean, absolutely nothing anywhere. The only conclusion I can draw from that is nothing cannot exist, because we exist. Could nothing have existed in the past? No. If it existed in the past, then some event must have taken place to end it. An event would be impossible in nothing, so nothing could never have existed because we exist, and as our universe now exists, nothing can never exist in the future either. Why could an event not happen in nothing? Because apart from the
obvious that there is nothing to happen, an event would create and require a moment in time. There can be no time in nothing as relativity describes time as just another dimension. David Hume and Immanuel Kant, asserted that “Existence is not a predicate”;- by which they mean that saying that something exists or has “Being”, does not add any extra information; so, one can say “The Universe”, or at most “The Universe is”. It is not necessary to add that it exists or has Being, as if these were extra attributes of the Universe, (or of anything else).If we assert “Nothing cannot exist”, and if we assert also, with Kant etc, that Existence is not a Predicate, then it is also unnecessary to talk in terms of Nothing having existence. How, after all could Nothing possibly exist ? If it existed it would be Something, Is this purely a linguistic and logical manoeuvre, or does it relate to the real world?—I’m not sure. To get back to Time; - without it nothing must have always existed, it can not have a beginning or end because either would create a moment in time. It would in reality be meaningless to ask how long nothing has existed and how long it will continue to exist,
it would be eternal and unchanging. Again, because we exist, nothing could not have had an existence because the creation of the universe would have required a significant change, thus contravening an unchanging nothing. Nothing can not have any laws of physics because there is nothing to apply those laws to, also the very concept of having laws contravenes our description of nothing. In the absence of any basic laws, let alone matter, how could anything be created? Once again, because we exist nothing could not have. Could the universe have been created in nothing? No, for the reasons stated above. However, just for the sake of argument, let us imagine it was. If the universe was created in nothing then where was it 'put'? If somewhere 'outside' of nothing, this would require an 'outside' to pre-exist, but it could not because that would require a boundary. It can not be ' put' within nothing, because containing a universe would no longer be within our definition of nothing. So far then we have discovered that by using the simple definition of nothing as being an infinite void we have placed the following conditions on it:1) It must be timeless.
2) It must have always existed and could not have been created. 3) It is unchanging. 4) Nothing else can exist. 5) It is unable to create anything. We have now concluded that nothing when described as an infinite void could never have existed because we do. There is however nothing wrong with the definition itself, the existence of nothing as an infinite void would appear to be logical, more than that, it HAS to be that way, nothing could not have any restraints of size or time placed upon it. We now need to change our definition of nothing in order that it may contain the universe. We will retain the description of nothing that we had before, as an infinite void, keeping it exactly as it was, except for one change. We will now allow it to contain the universe. Our new definition of nothing will now read: nothing is an infinite void, nothing else can exist except for the universe that is contained within it.
We can now think of the universe as a tiny (or huge as you like, there is nothing to compare it with) 'bubble' existing in an infinite nothing and expanding into it. This model rather conveniently does away with the need to have a moment of creation for the universe because within nothing time does not exist. Without time it would be meaningless to ask when the universe was created, it was simply there all the time, existing in the same way as nothing, as it always has. Within the universe of course time does exist, as does everything else. With this description of nothing its existence, and that of the universe, is now possible. Or is it? What does it mean to say the universe was always there? We believe it started with the Big Bang, but can we say the Big Bang was always there? This doesn't seem logical to me, it needed to have actually come into existence at some point, even the very term 'big bang', suggests a beginning. Let's step back a little and look at the creation of the Big Bang from the viewpoint of a 'perfect observer' in nothing. At the moment of creation what would our 'perfect observer' see? Nothing at all! The universe is self contained, nothing at all can escape from it into our nothing, and our observer would notice no change whatsoever!
As no detectable change at all has occurred from the viewpoint of nothing, and no change could ever be detected regarding the expanding universe, no 'real' change has occurred, (It may help here to visualize the Big Bang as an infinitely small event in the unimaginable vastness of an infinite void. In other words, a singularity, as indeed it is believed to have been.), therefore our definition of an unchanging timeless nothing is still valid. A quick (!) read of Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" will clarify my point about nothing escaping from the universe and the Big Bang starting as a singularity. Let's now look at the implications of an infinite nothing containing an expanding universe, ignoring for now the actual creation. We will consider two possible problems, expansion and infinity. 1) Expansion. Can the universe be described as expanding? From our viewpoint within the universe, yes. From our 'perfect observer's' viewpoint in nothing, no. Why not? Because a) as stated above our observer can have no knowledge of the universe, and b) what is it expanding in relation to? Nothing does not
contain anything, other than the universe, so there is no possible way to determine either the size, or the expansion of the universe, as both can only be measured in relation to something else. Size and expansion are meaningless terms here. This would appear to suggest that from within the universe things are as they appear to be, but from the point of view of our perfect observer in nothing, the universe does not exist! Furthermore with the absence of time in nothing the fact that it contains an aging expanding universe is meaningless from the perspective of nothing. So far so good, our nothing is still intact; from the point of view of our infinite nothing- it still contains nothing! (The creation event, if it actually happened, still needs explaining however) 2) Infinity. We now have a picture of nothing as being an infinite void, containing an expanding universe that it has no knowledge of, but is it still infinite? We have not put any restrictions on nothing's 'size' it is still infinite, but it contains a universe so surely that puts restrictions on its ‘completeness’; nothing is 'barred' from the area containing the universe! I think we are still okay here, to contain the universe is within our definition, but as to whether or not we have somehow a little less
infinity is open to question, but it does not contradict our definition. I can see no reason why an infinite nothing can not contain a finite universe. What caused the Big Bang and how could it form out of nothing? Without introducing a mysterious source of energy into the equation, as a magician might pull a rabbit out of a hat, it simply can't be done; it's as simple as that. It's logically and scientifically impossible to produce something from nothing. I realize that in Quantum Mechanics it is (arguably) possible, but that is in an already existing universe, not in nothing. Having said it's impossible we are left with a paradox, it has happened, we ARE here. There are only three logical conclusions to be drawn from this, assuming of course that our definition of nothing is valid. 1) The universe did not come from nothing, it came from something. Taking this route however offers no explanation either; we would still need to explain where this new something came from.
2) We have to introduce a mysterious source of energy, which creates Universes out of Nothing. 3) The universe did NOT have a creation event, it always existed. So what is this mysterious source of energy that we are compelled to introduce? Many people will say that it is God and that He always existed. We either accept that or accept that the universe itself must have always existed. We are now left with just these two possible solutions, either God created the universe and He always existed, or the universe itself always existed. The solution requires that something has always existed in order to avoid the problem of creating something out of nothing. The choice of introducing God is purely a matter of faith, for if we accept that God could have always existed then why not the universe? From a logical point of view within this model we do not need the existence of God; God is just a further complication that in turn would require to be created. If we ruthlessly apply Ockam’s razor to the idea of introducing God into the model we are left
with the universe always existing. I am NOT saying (here) that God does not exist, only that the idea of introducing God into the equation is not necessary in order to make it work. I know that some would argue that God is necessary as a Creator and Grand Designer of the universe but I disagree. The universe can simply be the way it is by pure chance alone, it need not have been designed to be the way it is. For those that argue that the universe requires such a high degree of 'fine tuning' for things to be so well suited for our own creation and evolution that it could not have happened by chance alone I disagree again. If the universe were not so well suited for us then we wouldn't be here! (The Weak Anthropic principle) The fact that we are here does not mean that the entire universe was designed just for our benefit. All of the above would seem to suggest that the universe has always existed. I appreciate that the idea seems unsatisfactory to our way of thinking, but our way of thinking is probably part of the problem. In our universe we take for granted cause and effect, in that order. Everything we know of happens that way and even our minds work that way! Our
very existence would not be possible if it were the other way round. When therefore we try to contemplate the idea of something always existing we simply can not manage to understand it, we are seeking a 'cause' for the 'effect' of the universe existing. The universe however is different to us, it exists in nothing, whereas we of course exist in the universe. There is no cause and effect in a timeless eternal infinite nothing! According to our definition of nothing as being timeless, then in order to contain the universe, the universe MUST have always existed within it. It is not possible for it to have been CREATED within it for that would require a moment in time. It is not a matter of convenience to suggest this idea; it is the way it simply has to be. If however you are uncomfortable with the concept of anything having always existed then I see no solution at all, because you will simply have to accept that at some point something came from nothing, and personally I find that prospect totally unacceptable. Either that or you have to conclude that the universe does not exist! And that could be right.
So after all the arguments I have made, what model do I prefer to describe where the universe came from? An infinite eternal unchanging nothing that has always existed and has always contained a finite but unbounded closed universe that constantly changes but is itself eternal. In this model the Big Bang is NOT required as a creation event, it is merely a phase in the cycle of an eternally expanding and collapsing universe and has no special significance at all. There is no need to look beyond it, there is only a previous cycle beyond it, and no need to say it is meaningless to try to look beyond it!
'Nothing' would appear to the casual observer to be a 'natural' state, but as I have outlined above, it seems to me it is not, it would appear to be a very special state. With the model for nothing that I have described, it would appear to be possible to exist and to contain the universe, but it still does not give an explanation of how the universe could be created from nothing. This problem appears to be insurmountable. I can not 'fix' my theory to explain such an event
and it would seem to suggest that the universe did not come from nothing but must have always existed or never existed! I tend to favour the view that the universe does exist, but of course we have no proof that it does! It may be possible that we have not grasped the concept of nothing. Perhaps to exist it requires a structure, its own form of 'space', but I am not going to go down that particular road because that is not the nothing that I began with as a model of how it may exist. That would be a entirely new theory! Anyway, I don't think it possible to apply the term 'exist' to nothing, it doesn't 'exist', its just a concept! I think that trying to explain where the universe came from is something we will never be able to do, we are contained within the universe and our understanding is restricted to the universe, anything else is guess work. That aside, this is the best attempt of describing where the universe came from that I could come up with: An infinite eternal unchanging nothing that has always existed and has always contained a finite but unbounded closed universe that constantly changes but is itself eternal.
With this model I can detect only one possible problem, and that is the acceptance of the Universe having always existed. Having said that I would suggest that the route to take in order to establish the concept of 'always' requires a more precise understanding of exactly what time is. In the meantime, to answer the original question 'Where did the universe come from?' I believe that it didn't come from anything, it always existed. Christians have no problem saying that their God, presumably a Being of immense power, has always existed uncreated, yet deny the possibility he might have evolved from a simpler state just like Life on Earth as we know it. This seems highly improbable, and some theologians, like Richard Swinburne, have instead asserted that God is the “simplest possible thing”. But can such a simple thing have intentionality, hear prayers, and create Universes? Besides, we already have the simplest possible things,--quarks and electrons,--but they are part of the Universe not designers of it. Is God an electron?
Nor do Christians have problems with magical creations of a Universe by an unknown Being without any pre-existing tools, factory , labour force, or somewhere to put the finished product -and for no apparent reason—except perhaps that he was lonely and wanted someone to love! Yet they pour scorn on modern theories of the Megaverse and multi-dimensions which are far more probable, and have a solid basis in Mathematics, Quantum mechanics and Relativity Theory. But then, as with biblical interpretation, -a cherry –picking approach is their standard method. A “multiverse-of-the-gaps,” is said to be no better than the “God-of-the-gaps”. The Multiverse does however have the merit of some theoretical backing. Its denial is just another desperate attempt to insist that a God designed the Universe deliberately so as to make it appear undesigned,--which really is scraping the barrel. Is God a deceiver?
Chapter 4. Evolution, Determinism, and the Properties of Matter
Thanks to the Russian chemist Mendeleev1869, we have a system of classification of the chemical elements known as “The Periodic Table”. The Oxford Professor of Chemistry (and atheist), Peter Atkins, has written an excellent small book using that title. There are around 100 naturally occurring elements, the heaviest being Uranium-238, and quite a few extra man-made ones,-heavier still. A new one has recently been added. There is a corny Christian joke which goes the rounds. Some scientists challenge God that they can also create Life. God says “go on then”. The scientists say “give us some dirt then and we will make a start on it”. To which God says “O no, find your own dirt”.—Ha ha. Well the above comments about elements show that scientists can do just that. Matter,-that is to say, -the chemical elements, all have specific chemical properties, which tend to recur in linear stretches as one goes through the periodic table (hence “periodic”). If God made them, why repeat similar themes
at intervals,-why not just do it all haphazardly by arbitrary magic, and let any old element have any old property? Scientists know why; the properties are directly tied into the arrangement of electron shells which “orbit” the atomic nucleus, leaving a surplus or deficiency of electrons in the outer shell which can then be shared in a specific manner with another suitable atom. Therefore the structure and function of chemistry, and organic living biochemistry consists of hierarchies of fully deterministic logical combinations of Matter at the molecular level of description. At higher levels of description there is room for chance to play a part in allowing what happens on larger scales. But chance is limited by selection processes which tend to regulate what is causally possible in the type of complex “living” molecules which emerge. In Evolutionary theory there is the concept of Natural Selection, -- and also “Neutralism”,the idea that random chemical and biochemical mutations and increasing “sticktogerration”,(-or just “sticktion”), cause a tendency from overall simplicity to increasing complexity, (which is sometimes reversible). Or in other words, when things are very simple and
primeval, there is only one way to go— upwards. This concept of Evolution is nor just restricted to biology or even biochemistry, but can be applied to the entire physical Cosmos,--in which it is proposed that a form of Natural Selection and Random Drift applies alternative sets of otherwise deterministic properties to the whole Universe,-even Megaverse, (assuming that there might be many different Universes.). This is a grand idea, as Darwin himself put it when commenting at the end of his book upon his theory of biological evolution. Compared with this, an unexplained creationevent by an unknown superman called God, is a rather poor concept. But one has to start somewhere, and one cannot blame early people for speculating wildly on the origin of things before any science and technology were possible. What seems so strange to me is that the Bible, which is not a single work, but an anthology of numerous authors writing over a period of 1000 years between the first book of the Old Testament and the last book of the New Testament, in the same genre of course,
written by the same people, hence the similarities of the theme,--should be regarded as a scientific textbook 2000 years later.. This can be ascribed to indoctrination and brainwashing, ignorance of how Nature works, wishful thinking, laziness, and fear of the unknown, and vested interests by the leaders of the Churches and governments---an impressive list of unimpressive reasons. We have much better explanations now. Of course we, (our scientists) do not know everything and perhaps never will. The Universe may appear to be logically comprehensible, but we can still only see so far, and in the end may have to reply on probabilistic inductive and deductive reasoning to try and put together a Theory of Everything. There is no reason why a modified Ape like ourselves, who evolved to live on the African savannah, should necessarily have the secrets of the Universe open before us. Though that does not definitely mean that it is closed to us either. We are at the cutting edge of what can be known. We can trace the logical cause and
effect progress of the evolution of the Universe from the Big Bang up to the present time, and mathematicians and physicists are working to try and unravel the processes that gave rise to that original inflation of the Universe from the primeval Singularity. Needless to say, Theology contributes nothing to this voyage of discovery, (though of course individual scientists who may happen to be Christians can play their part) . Meanwhile the Churches will be waiting in the wings to take over for Jesus, whatever discoveries are made in the future. In the beginning after the initial 3 minutes following the Big Bang, there existed only quarks and gluons, followed by electrons, followed by protons ,(or hydrogen ions), and then gaseous hydrogen which underwent gravitational collapse to form the first stars and galaxies,--which then produced all the heavier elements by nuclear fusion, and which then exploded and scattered these elements around space,-until they re-combined into new stars and planets, and complex organic molecules and the beginning of primitive Life. Could it have happened in any other way? It seems unlikely because it was causally
necessary that it should happen the way it did; but it is an open question. It now seems probable that our Universe is one of many; if one then why not another and another,-even an infinite number of different Universes in a vast Megaverse. Scientific theory often pulls ahead of empirical data,-so at the moment a Megaverse, and associated “String Theory” cannot be plausibly proven; but that may change with more measurements. It is all a matter of evidence. After the Big Bang there was a slight “pause” of about 300 million years before anything else happened, and there was nothing but darkness and a dense fog of electrons, which still, (as we can look back in time), -obscures the first 300 million years of the Universe’s existence. It was not until the hydrogen gas had collapsed under gravitation into the first stars,--as mentioned above,--that the radiation from these early stars re-ionised the remaining hydrogen, and their light was emitted,--which we can see now,--13.7 billion years later. This seems a strange sort of way to create a Universe,--having a 300 million year “pause”,--but then I suppose there was nothing else for God to do;--why hurry? Or it might
just have happened that way because there was no other way it could happen. Perhaps we will find out some day. It does seem though, that Mass/Energy is constrained in the way it can act,--perhaps through mathematical laws which themselves are based upon logical necessity. We observe and discover these laws, and think of them as “descriptive” laws. Religious types think they are “proscriptive” laws; that is, they are prescribed by a Lawgiver. Though this Law-giver has to be specially invented in order to “explain” these pre-existing laws. Christians continually muddle cause and effect relationships,-getting them back to front. This is “a posteriori”, or backwards,- thinking. They are also fond of analogies; though in this case they are thinking akin to saying that a rabbit has a white tail in order that huntsmen can more easily shoot them;-or legs are designed to fit trousers, or noses are designed to fit spectacles. Also they exhibit “teleological” thinking (“telos”, Greek, meaning “far”-as in television (far-seeing). This way of thinking assumes a distant far-off goal or purpose to which the Universe is striving.
This is why they have trouble with Evolution. They think “Man” is the goal of creation, and therefore find it extraordinary that living – processes, and the Cosmos itself, should be so fine-tuned as to produce this end goal. The evolutionary explanation is that “Man” is just one of many possibilities which evolution produced; just consider,--all the vast numbers of different living things which exist apart from Man. So we are a random product,--just like seaweed or scorpions. We seem “different” largely because we have specialised in big brains and expanded intelligent consciousness. But we are still at the mercy of the next viral pandemic, caused by simple viruses which are only half-alive themselves. Teilhard de Chardin, the Catholic writer is partly responsible for this teleological assumption; he wrote of an end –state, the “Omega point” to which the Universe is striving. This concept was thoroughly trashed by the biologist Sir Peter Medawar. Christians inherited these ideas from Plato. According to Plato, Socrates had a conversation with a cocky young Athenian lawyer called Euythpro. They were arguing about the origin of “goodness”.
Socrates concluded that if “Goodness” or “the Good”, was defined and created by God,--then God could call anything “good” that he wished (even eating babies), and we would all be obliged to obey Him and do likewise. So God would just be a fickle tyrant. On the other hand,--if God’s nature was to be good, and he could not be otherwise,--then “the Good” was something that existed prior to, and independent of God, -to which God was obliged to conform; also God was constrained by his “Nature”, and therefore did not have complete Freewill. Interesting eh? Of course the atheist would say there is no God, -in which case the whole conundrum is a fictional pseudo-problem, and can be disregarded. Atheism wins! So does Determinism. The Reasonableness of Evolution: Or, a quick “potted” guide to human evolution. We already know that owing to random mutations and mixing of genes through sexual intercourse,-that children are always somewhat different from their parents; ie—they are not
identical clones of them. That is obvious to anyone, even God-believers. We know from the fossils, backed up by molecular biology of the genes themselves, that human-like creatures have existed for at least 6 million years, and that they have changed as time moved on, up to the present day. Therefore, there was once a time when an indeterminate sort of anthropoid/simian mammal existed which produced at least two children which became separated, but survived. One of these bred with others of the parent stock in the same jungle environment, and continued the same ape-like lineage. The other bred likewise, but probably wandered out of the jungle onto drier and hotter savannah,-or was pushed out by competition, or rejected by the “tribe” for being “different”, but managed to find a mate. Then owing to the digital nature of genetic transmission, one of its children was like itself, and better adapted than the others for the new conditions, and it survived;-the other children perished. This would of course be happening in other families as well, --not just one,--so there
would have been other potential mates available,-so more grand-progeny would survive who were better adapted to life on the savannah. This scenario can be empirically constructed from observation of animal behaviour in the wild. No longer being able to continue junglelife, further variations would have gradually arisen involving loss of body hair (a protection against jungle insects), further development of an efficient cooling system by sweating,-owing to greater exposure to the sun. Standing upright to maximise heat-loss, improve vision, and free the ape-like hands for carrying children, food, weapons etc. There was no longer much fur left on the mothers for babies to cling to,-so they had to be carried. Carrying infants in the front improved maternal/infant bonding and growth of intelligence and cognition, and with it the growth of the human brain. The forced change of diet from jungle fruits and berries, meant rapid adaptation of hunting skills, aggression, bipedalism, so that eye-level could be raised up higher to scan for predators and prey, giving early warning of them. Loss of body fat, and increase in leg length for better bipedal running.
Unlike the big cats and other predators who had evolved soon after the demise of the dinosaurs 60 million years previously, there had been no time to evolve killer teeth and claws, so these early humanoids had to use their dexterous fingers and improving brain power to develop new skills and artificial weapons. And so on. You see how it all ties together reasonably and logically, and how it occurs quite naturally and arbitrarily, shaped only by environmental changes, and genetic variations,-ie Natural Selection. So all of the above slight modifications of the new humanoids can be regarded as transitional forms, from original parental stock,-and between each other. Then as human populations increased, they formed cooperative clans and tribes as apes do, -and then started competing with, and killing neighbouring tribes;--and so began “Evil”. Creationists stick their heads in the sand and shout “there are no transitional forms—God made each “kind” of animal separately.” But why? Why make millions of slightly different animals, which therefore all have to be given separate names by biologists, when it is obvious that all these slight variations are
not fixed,-but flow into each other in a smooth (or sometimes punctuated) manner? Consider Sea-lions: is it not obvious how similar they are to dogs? They even bark, and do tricks and have similar mannerisms. As well as whiskers. Consider their “legs”, which are so maladapted to moving on the ground, but so efficient for swimming. Look at them, and see the obvious transition between proper legs, eg like those of a frog, and the tail-like flukes of their close relatives,--Whales. All one has to do is stick a sea-lions stubby legs together with cellotape down the middle, and you have an instant whale’s tail-flukes. Similarly other animal series, eg Horses, where there is a steady transition from early Hyracotherium to modern Equus. There is no denying it;-if you are rational.
Chapter 5 Evidence, Logic & Fallacies Christians often claim that Nature is proof that God exists. They say things like: “Look around you”, or “Look at that Rose”, or Tree etc. But: 1.We would need proof that God exists at all, before we can consider his supernatural exploits. 2. We would need proof that God was able to do all he is claimed to be able to do. Many so-called miracles can be duplicated by “magicians” like James Randi, especially using high- tech effects. 3. We would need proof that God did actually create our Universe and human life,--and not someone else, eg a team of superior alien engineers from the Planet Zog. somewhere in another Universe. 4. We would need proof that the Bible is the Word of God.
5. We need to know if he is the personal loving God he is claimed to be, and sustains the world, or are we just pets and he amuses himself teasing us. 6. How do we know God will keep his promises in the Bible? 7. We would need to know that the Properties of Matter are inadequate to explain their own self-assembly into living things, and that a man in the Sky was actually responsible. Comments on above: 1. The error made by Creationist fundamentalists, (and isn’t every true Christian necessarily a fundamentalist?)—is that they look at Nature’s life-forms, eg a Tree, as an individual single object in isolation. Thanks to Darwin we now know that all trees everywhere since the very beginning of trees have to be compared and contrasted with each other and with their extinct fossilized remains, in order to really understand “Tree-ness”. Only then will it become apparent that Trees and every other organism also, have become changed
throughout the generations, ie-they have evolved. But could not God, (whose existence had already been proven),-have made the changes himself bit by bit? Well we already know that genetic mutations occur randomly, as well as sometimes for identifiable reasons like toxins or cosmic or man-made radiation. We also know that it is usual for any repeated copying process to make errors, eg as with scribes copying manuscripts, (including biblical ones). Now if you compare these reasonable events with the religious hypothesis that an unknown, or even a known superman God, created millions or billions of plants and animals of the same “kind”, -to use Creationist jargon,-but introduced deliberate minute changes in each succeeding generation for no useful or artistic purpose,--then I think the first, naturalistic process is more reasonable than the second supernaturalistic one;--especially as the changes can be recorded and analyzed by laboratory technicians. Creationists claim that Matter is inert, like a pile of plastic ping-pong balls, or billiard balls,-incapable of self-organization without a God-Person to do it.
The first rebuttal of this notion concerns the unproven-ness of the existence of God, and the fact that he would have to be a complex evolved Life –form himself in order to have Divine powers of omnipotence, as Richard Dawkins first pointed out. He cannot be self – made,-pulled up as it were, by his own bootstraps,- or eternal; if these latter two were possible of a God, they would also be possible of the Universe itself, and one could just eliminate the God-hypothesis as an unnecessary complication ,-using Occam’s razor. The second rebuttal,--that of the claim of the inertness of Matter, is entirely undermined by atomic physics and chemistry. Atoms combine into molecules, large and small, by logical cause and effect processes, and the tendency to increasing self-organized complexity. If we do not yet fully understand all the processes of self –assembly of RNA and DNA, it is only a minor gap in the otherwise quite complete understanding of the chemistry of Life, which one can be confident will be filled in time. Have faith!
Apart from chemistry, which involves only the outer shells of electrons being shared between neighbouring atoms to effect a chemical bond,-- there is the little matter of the atomic nucleus, and the Strong Force, which binds together it’s constituent protons and neutrons, and their own constituent quarks and gluons. This force is partially released in atomic reactors and atomic bomb blasts,--something which even fundamentalists cannot deny. The conclusion is obvious: Matter contains its own energy/power source, and is not inert and in need of a divine helping hand. When the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva gets fired up soon,-we may discover more about this Force of Nature,-and where it came from-if anywhere. Perhaps it is a result of a naturally-occurring broken symmetry in the void, as are natural forces generally,-as worked out by the mathematician Emmy Noether. 2. It has been rightly observed that our hightech capability would be seen as God-like by primitive, unsophisticated people. So why should “miracles “ not be high-tech natural effects,--when they are not also being
hallucinations, wishful-thinking and mistaken and inaccurate reporting? 3. If there is an omnipotent God,-it does not follow that he actually did what the bible writers say he did. 4. We have observed that the Bible was written by named human authors over a period of 1000 years,--so where does God come into it? 5. Most of the time God does not appear loving, but rather judgemental, vindictive, violent, vengeful and Hell-bent on punishing us. Who needs friends like that? Time to deny him, along with the Holy Spirit, and send them both packing. 6. We don’t know God will keep any promises. What about the original rainbow after the Flood, and his promise that he would thereafter be nice, and never do that again? Tell that to the Indonesian tsunami sufferers. 7. We have compared and contrasted the innate properties of Matter with the inert billiard ball claim, and demonstrated that the latter claim is vacuous.
So what constitutes valid Evidence for anything? It means carefully observing and measuring, comparing and contrasting, looking for selfconsistency, and constructing a theoretical Model which constantly confirms its own truth, and withstands attempts to falsify it, and being prepared to alter or abandon it in the light of new evidence. That is the scientific method--or “Scientism” as our aforementioned lady philosopher would like to think of it. Evidence is not: consulting ancient and unchangeable Holy Books, seeking revelations in the sky, proposing unsound false deductive arguments based on falsely assumed premises, and holding to them doggedly in spite of, and even in defiance, of changing circumstances. Ignoring or wilfully misinterpreting empirical data,-- founding holy shrines based upon the testimonies of one or two ignorant indoctrinated children,-eg Fatima, and Lourdes,- and using these shrines as a supposed source of a miraculous pseudoscience for the main purpose of filling the coffers of the established churches at the expense of the poor. The commercialism at
Lourdes is quite appalling, with their plastic bottles of holy water. I once mentioned this politely to a Catholic clergyman friend (such friends tend not to last),-and he said I did not need to be offensive!—all I said was--Continuing;-It is not claiming to “know God” or to have conversations with him. Police methods of separate interrogation of a number of story-tellers about God will soon demonstrate the inconsistencies between them. The Logical Approach God is defined according to the collective descriptions of him throughout the Bible, which any one can check for themselves, as “Omnimax”. This is a collective name for Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent, and Omnipresent. However such a God is a logical impossibility, on account of the “Incompatible Attributes Argument,--of which, two examples below: 1. The well-known Argument from Evil, which goes back to Epicurus in the 300’s BC, which
shows that a God cannot be all-powerful, allknowing, and all- benevolent at once. If he knows all and can do all, then he can prevent evil,--but he does not,--therefore he is not allbenevolent.. Or he is benevolent, but is not powerful or knowledgeable enough to prevent evil. So the combination does not work. 2. If he is omniscient then he knows the future, or any changes he might make to the future; therefore it, plus any changes, have already been discounted, and he has no freewill or power to do anything spontaneous and “offthe-cuff”, which he does not already know about in advance. Or else he would fall into a chain of infinite progression of knowing what he was going to do, and then changing it,-but not knowing what he would do next etc etc. So this combination fails also, and God does not have the freewill to change the known future without violating his omniscience, because he then would not know in advance what changes he was going to make. 3. If God has no Freewill, how can he give the gift of Freewill to Humans?
Humans already have a degree of freewill for different evolutionary reasons; but God is unchanging and does not alter his Divine Nature,-otherwise what use would he be as a fixed example and beacon of stability for humans to look up to? If you prayed to such a God, you could not rely on any response he might make because his nature could change from day to day, and he would be as fickle as any human; you might as well pray to your next-door neighbour. Logical errors and fallacies . Many Christians claim to know beyond doubt that God exists, and pay no heed to claims about his logical incompatibility with himself. They are making a Faith claim, but at the same time claim this is evidence for God. Clearly they cannot understand the difference between unsupported assertions of Faith, and logical empirical evidence,-or else they claim to be using Logic themselves,-but cannot distinguish a sound valid deductive argument from an unsound one. The “virtue” of faith is that it is something held onto in the teeth of evidence to the
contrary or no evidence at all,-in other words,defiant irrationalism. One of God’s attributes is his omnipresence,-he is always around, watching you like a “peeping Tom”, judging you,-looking for the slightest excuse to send you to burning Hellfire;--but of course he loves you and only wants to save your soul so that nasty Satan can’t get it. Incidentally, what is an immortal soul anyway? The Dean at my medical school started his first ever lecture to us by stating that in all his years as a surgeon, he had never yet encountered a Soul” anywhere in the human body; perhaps it was just conveniently invisible; rather like the God which the Sputnik satellite was unable to detect when launched into orbit. Scientists can detect the whole range of electro-magnetic radiation, ultra-violet rays, infra-red, X-rays, gamma-rays, and including of course visible Light. Using it, they can see about 13 billon light-years back in time, almost as far as the Big Bang,-which itself cannot be seen,-not because God has placed a veil in front of it, but for the more prosaic reason that as the Big Bang event is approached, Space becomes an impenetrable
fog of free electrons which obscures it owing to the ionization of space at that distance from the Big Bang,--caused by radiation from the first stars. Only gravitational waves can emerge from it,-and at present scientists are trying to detect these with LIGO,-the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory,--and later to come,LISA,-it’s equivalent in space orbit. Yet, scientists are unable to detect God in the same room as themselves. One wonders how God being in the room with someone is different from God not being in the room with someone. Self-Organizing Complexity I touched on the claim that Matter is it’s own Energy source, and has inherent properties of self-assembly. This can be demonstrated both experimentally and mathematically, or computer-simulated. Examples are “Cellular automata”, where all that is required is one simple rule of procedure, eg a piece on a draughts –board moving say “one space to the left”; and in no time a complex pattern can automatically build up by repeating the rule serially.
Another example is Richard Dawkins’ computer-generated “insects” which evolve spontaneously. Fractal patterns are generated in Nature, for mathematical and logical reasons (without an Intelligent Designer. Perfect logarithmic spirals are demonstrated in the shells of some shell-fish. The Golden Mean, and the Fibonacci series of numbers appear to be mathematical necessities, which illustrate symmetrical forms to which humans are attuned and find aesthetic. Why should humans find certain patterns aesthetic? It seems the reason is because physical and mathematical balance are harmonious and symmetrical,-and humans like symmetry because in general it indicates health and bodily strength in their prospective mates,--and therefore lots of healthy children who might survive long enough for their genes to become propagated,--Natural Selection willing. No God required so far. Chaos Theory This tends to explain the occurrence of large scale effects as the result of a single, perhaps random, spontaneous change in a physical
system,--like say, the weather; the famous butterfly effect, whose wing beats ultimately generates a typhoon somewhere far away from it. Or the case where say, a sand-dune reaches a critical-point of build-up, and then collapses causing an avalanche. Or where one extra neutron released from a decaying atom, causes an atomic explosion. Or the way the pounding waves on a beach can sort the shingle pebbles into graded sizes up the slope of the beach,-or soil, when placed in a column of water settles out into different layers according to the density, size and viscosity of its suspended particles. Or the tiny mutation in a cell’s DNA which through a cascade effect becomes the recipe for building a bigger brain in a proto-Human, which gives him/her some critical new faculty,-like say, enhanced consciousness, or aggression, or ability to run faster. The one straw that breaks the Camel’s back. Still no God there. Logical Fallacies
These are committed by Christian and Islamic theologians in spades. We have already mentioned the “No True Scotsman” fallacy;--We don’t believe that at all ( or anymore),--that is a different kind of Christian who has misinterpreted Jesus. The Straw Man argument,--where one sets up a false version of say,- Evolutionary Theory (saying Hitler was a Darwinist, or that Social Darwinists killed million of people, therefore Evolution is false) Other favourites are: Circular arguments (begging the question); saying things like “The Bible is true because the Bible itself says it is true”. This of course is self-referential, and therefore a closed false argument. (Strangely, one Christian writer once claimed that atheism is self-referential; I don’t follow that; I think what he was doing was committing the next fallacy: Psychological projection -accusing your opposing debater of whatever error of fact or logic you yourself have
committed;--attack being the best form of defence. Post hoc ergo propter hoc --“after this therefore because of this”;-- eg I prayed to God for my lost car keys to turn up,;- I found them, therefore God answered my prayer. False dichotomy Either-or answers. Or in this example of C.S. Lewis’s logic,--the false Trilemma; “Jesus was either Liar , Lunatic. Or Lord”—that’s it,-no other possibilities like say,--he was a superstitious Jewish preacher, he was a product of his own time, when people thought like that, or he was mistaken, or the words were put into his moth by the Gospel writers (at least 40 years later),-and that he never said them at all. Argument from Force Believe what I tell you that Jesus said,-or be burned in everlasting Hell-fire, (as well as here on Earth,-and tortured first, or merely fined, imprisoned, socially ostracized, and your business boycotted)
Equivocation Changing the meaning of words;--very popular. False Cause Saying “God-did-it”,-as the answer to everything. Non-sequitur The conclusion does not follow from the argument Eg. “Look at that Rose”;--therefore God exists. False Conclusion Similar to above;--just getting it wrong basically. Using highly improbable weak arguments to try and justify God somehow. Eg Alvin Plantinga; “If God exists; he exists in every possible world”;--so? A very big “if”. Apologies if I have misinterpreted him,-it is difficult to follow. Other arguments: “God is testing us”, “God wants us to suffer in order to come to Him”,-or to make us more worthy having been so tested
to build our character; (who needs “character” in Heaven?) Or the horrific Catholic argument: it is necessary for little children to suffer and die in order that they should be saved. Or to paraphrase the Mother Teresa argument: “It is good that the poor and helpless should suffer as Jesus suffered, -it is the kiss of salvation”. This probably explains why funds donated to her for the poor, ended up elsewhere instead. (See Christopher Hitchens —“The Missionary Position)” These are just a few of the logical fallacies. I once spoke to John Blanchard, who wrote a book called “Does God believe in Atheists?” (very strange). I accused him, ever so politely, by phone, of committing all of the logical fallacies above, and more. The reply was typical;- complete denial, or “I deny it all”. I have not heard of him since,despite claims of thousands of his books in circulation. “Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence” Who do they think they are kidding?
Some Christians appear to have little sense of time; if Science cannot answer a question, then that’s it,-it will never be answered,-not tomorrow, not next week, not in a million years,- despite the fact that Science advances knowledge by the day. Or they say that Science keeps getting it wrong,-that Newton has been dethroned by Einstein;--another Argument from Ignorance. Absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence,-when that absence keeps on accumulating, and no God or second or thirdcoming ever materialises. Will they still make the assertion if nothing happens for another 2000 years? Their only recourse is to pretend that Jesus actually did come back just like the Gospels said,--in which case why are we still in need of Salvation? Why are they still awaiting the Rapture, when the Chosen will be taken up? Religion makes pseudo-scientific claims about the nature of the world, and so tries to ape the scientific method, while refusing to play by the rules of proper evidence, or else it discards it’s claims when evidence continues not to appear; and then falls back on Faith and says it rejects science altogether.
There are those who pretend Science and religion are compatible, and even offer bribes like the Templeton prize and con some scientists into making nice noises about religion. In the last few issues of the New Scientist the scientists and the religionists have been attacking each other; even John Polkinghorne, ex–physicist turned fundamentalist has resurrected himself in order to dispute a recent claim that religious belief is no better than astrology. Not much reconciliation there then. One exasperated reader demanded they stop doing it and let the scientists have their magazine back for science, out of the clutches of the Christian invaders who are trying to infiltrate it. Special Pleading In this fallacy, two similar propositions are considered,--one of them is supported, the other denied. The Christians would like their God to have existed eternally, but they deny this state to the Universe itself. But if a God can have existed forever, then why can the Universe not also have existed forever?— especially as we know the Universe exists,-but this God-person remains elusive. If the
Universe is eternal and uncreated, then God is unnecessary, and should receive the Occam’s razor treatment. Shifting the goal posts When we criticise one Christian assertion they claim they did not mean that, but something else instead, or else they raise the criteria of proofs for say, Evolution, until the reductio ad absurdum of expecting evolutionists to come up with a continuous video recording of speeded up evolution in action for their benefit; and they still would not believe it on principle anyway.. Poisoning the well A generalised discrediting of someone creationists disapprove of, eg a prominent atheist; they might say things like “what else can you expect from an atheist”? Similar to “Ad Hominem” attacks, where someone’s character is attacked in order to discredit their argument. Shifting the Burden of Proof This is very popular. In normal conversation if one makes a positive claim or assertion such as “ I saw Mrs Bloggs in the supermarket”, then
(if anyone cared), one should be able to prove that claim with good supporting evidence, eg a photograph, or a full shopping basket. One would not expect to have to provide proof that Mrs Bloggs was not at the supermarket. Positive proof is the default requirement. Not so for the God question. “Prove that God doesn’t exist” says the Christian. This is very silly; I would immediately have to rush off around the Universe, presumably for ever, if the Universe is eternal,-turning over every rock in case the Christian God is hiding underneath it, using telescope and microscope and spectrometer as well as chemical analysis of samples in the desperate hunt for Him. Of course one could not possibly succeed, and so, using Christian logic they would say triumphantly: “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist, therefore he does,”-praise the Lord. I think I might try the same method on them, and get them to prove that the “Great Invisible Pink Unicorn” doesn’t exist; surely She does,have they not beheld the Glory of Her Ineffable Pinkness?”
Lies and forgeries. The Testamonium Flavium, or adulteration of Josephus’ work to make it appear he was a Christian convert, or confirm that Jesus actually existed, to the bare-faced cheek of the Donation of Constantine, in which 8th century Monks forged a document purporting to prove that the Emperor Constantine had donated the Roman Empire to Pope Sylvester, the False Decretals,(see notes), and others too numerous to mention;--see “Forgery in Christianity” by Joseph Wheless. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul claims that 500 people saw the risen Jesus;- a conveniently round number,--no names and addresses, or cross-referencing mind you. What it really comes down to is that just one man, Paul, says that 500 people witnessed the risen Jesus; not the same thing at all. There is the scandal of the medieval forgeries, not least the Shroud of Turin, carbon-dated to the 14th century. Also enough bits of the True Cross of Christ to build a barn with,--and not forgetting dozens of Jesus’ original circumcised foreskins. More recently claims of the alleged recantation and conversion of Charles Darwin on his death-bed,--the so-called “Lady Hope” affair,-denied by Darwin’s daughter,-and one of many
attempted such claims, including David Hume being pestered by priests on his death-bed also. This brings us to the present-day repeated assertions in Church and outside of it, by clerics, that the Gospel writers were all eyewitnesses of the crucifixion and /or resurrection of Jesus,--when in fact the earliest, that of Mark, was written around 70 AD, 40 years after Jesus’ death,--if he ever existed and there is any truth at all in the story. There is a good case to be made that Jesus was a mythical figure, or some local preacher who attracted stories of earlier charismatic characters to himself,-a sort of syncretic composite one-size- fits-all figure, with all the stolen attributes of other pagan heroes and deities. In Church it is repeatedly asserted through traditional prayers and hymns that the creator made the world in 6 days as in Genesis,-that Adam and Eve lived, and Original Sin is real, and still requires expiation by continual worship and supplication. No theory of Evolution there,-not even among moderate Anglicans. The Catholic Church grudgingly accepts its own parody of Evolution. It should not be necessary to point out that gradual naturalistic evolution over 4 billion
years, is not compatible with intentional creation over 6 days by a Designer God about 6000 years ago; and all the squirming over whether a “day” actually means 24 hours, or a few million or billion years,--will not fix the problem;-just another example of Equivocation. Notes: False Decretals The Decretals of the Pseudo-Isidore False Decretals is a name given to certain apocryphal papal letters contained in a collection of canon laws composed about the middle of the ninth century by an author who uses the pseudonym of Isidore Mercator, in the opening preface to the collection. For the student of this collection, the best, indeed the only useful edition, is that of Hinschius, "Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianæ" (Leipzig, 1863). The figures in parenthesis occurring during the course of this article refer the reader to the edition of Hinschius. The name "False Decretals" is sometimes extended to cover not only the papal letters forged by Isidore, and contained in his collection, but the whole collection, although it contains other
documents, authentic or apocryphal, written before Isidore's time.
Roots and fruits Although I have read the Bible from cover to cover, it is so big, and I cannot remember everything in it. I recently heard it said that a Bible student had pointed out that the expression ”Immortal Soul” is incorrect, because apparently Ezekiel was of the opinion that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die”; still, what did he know (Ezekiel, I mean)? However, if true, what happens to the Christian doctrine of the eternal wailing and gnashing of teeth of one’s immortal soul in eternal Hell-fire? If souls can die like bodies, then it is not quite so bad; a merciful release one might say. I did not think that Souls had teeth anyway. There are many good books on the origins of Christianity in pagan antiquity, (including Jewish ). The interested reader can explore the subject in depth, as this is meant only to be a small book,--though getting larger all the time. One of my oldest books, in my collection is edited by John Hick, “The Myth of God Incarnate”. Obviously Christianity is grounded in the Jewish Old Testament;--though there are some who would like to disown the OT as being
concerned with the “unique “message of Jesus. For three reasons I think; one of them being Christian anti-semitism;-after all, aren’t the Jews Christ-killers? The other being to try and provide as authentic –as –possible a pedigree to Christianity that does not just rely just on the Jewish O.T. So the “pagan” Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle were called in, and give a kind of pseudo-Christian reverence, (being preChristian themselves, and non-Biblical). The third being the awfulness of Yahweh’s personality and behaviour; how could he be the Father of Jesus, (or at least consubstantial with him)? The four canonical Gospels were chosen out of dozens of others,-the rest being ignored as not confirming the right sort of story of Jesus,-eg the Gospel of Thomas, which says nothing about Virgin Births and resurrections. Likewise the other Gnostic or apocryphal writings were stifled,-as were those of other unsuitable Greek philosophers like Democritus or Epicurus. Further tampering with Josephus’ the Histories, and “Wars of the Jews” by Bishop Eusebius and others, after much-cherrypicking and gatherings of Church Councils, eg
of Nicaea and Chalcedon, finally produced the Gospels as we know them; --arbitrary or what? So don’t believe everything you read in the Bible,--it is all the result of a political conspiracy to make the new Roman religion a one-size-fits-all creed. What about Jesus’ miracles? What about the miracles performed by Apollonius of Tyana (Jesus’ contemporary), or of Emperor Vespasian, Alexander of Aboneuticos, Peregrinus, Buddha, Jeanne d’Arc, all the Christian saints , apostles and martyrs, stigmata, bleeding statues, portraits of the Virgin Mary in a slice of cucumber or whatever. It seems they were all at it,--except now of course, when we are much more discerning of silly claims and stunts. How many other gods and heroes long before Jesus, were in the business of being born to virgins, crucified on trees or crosses as scapegoats and blood sacrifices, descending to the under-world, and then being resurrected and ascending to a heaven. Lots,-with slight variations of course, otherwise it would be a clone of the Jesus story; but very similar; eg: The Sumerian Inanna,--ascending from the under-world after being hung on a tree for
three days,-- the Indian Krishna,-third incarnation of the goddess Vishnu, Romulus, founder of Rome, Herakles, Buddha ,Attis, Dionysus, Mithras, Osiris , Baal etc. The original Egyptian Trinity was Isis/ Osiris/Horus. It is also obvious that many of these, eg Mithras were born on 25th December, three days after the Winter Solstice, when it becomes apparent that the “death” of winter has been overcome, and there is a final triumphant resurrection at Easter when the days become longer than night after the Spring Equinox, and the “god” (whichever) is re-born. It has rightly been said that what is true in Christianity isn’t new, and what’s new isn’t true. It is a syncretic made-up faith, being a composite faith for all the citizens of the Roman Empire, it’s former colonies and their modern counterparts in the West (and the Western modern colonies in the third world. So it is not literally true,-just a fiction based on some other earlier mythical fictions, with a smattering of garbled ancient history here and there.
So why are we still slaves to it, and still being brain-washed and threatened by it’s leaders and their gullible converts? Jesus, man of peace? Sometimes, sometimes not, depending upon which bits you read. We all know of Baby Jesus, and Gentle Jesus meek and mild; what about muscular Christianity,--Jesus as God of War. What about: “And if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30) "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death." (Matthew 10:21) “Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law: and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me. “(Matthew 10:34-38) “I say unto you that unto every one that hath shall be given; but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him. But these mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:26-27) “And he said unto them, but now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet; and he that hath none, let him sell his cloak, and buy a sword. For I say unto you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in me, And he was reckoned with transgressors: for that which concerneth me hath fulfilment. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” (Luke 22:36-38)
What about Jesus being born in 6 BC during the time of King Herod, (Matthew) AND during the time of Quirinius, Roman Governor of Syria in 6 AD and Tax collector for Syria and Iudaea, twelve years later, (Luke)? If there is no God, then the Lord’s prayer and the Sermon on the Mount become false and meaningless; nice literature perhaps, in the KJV,-but that is all. So why is this phoney set of beliefs allowed to infiltrate governments, indoctrinate our children and meddle in Science? Why do we have to revere fictions and give their proselytisers tax- concessions, power over exclusive “faith” schools, and special privileges of all kinds? Why do we tolerate self important prelates and their luxurious life-styles? Is the British State, to take one example, really founded on a childish myth, to the exclusion of any real solid basis, like for instance an acknowledged gathering of similar people into a mutually beneficial social group, without
having to pretend that the God of Israel has sanctioned it? Why should not the Anglican Church be disestablished, and our poor Queen released from the absurd role of Head of the Church, (or Defender of Faith(s)) and the House of Lords cleansed of non-elected Bishops? Two main excuses for the persistence of modern organised Christianity is: 1, As a moral leader 2, As a provider of charity, services and overseas aid. The fruits of Christianity demonstrate it’s historical immorality;--and besides, the study of Moral Philosophy puts paid to the claims of God-belief as being a necessary pre-condition for good behaviour. It does indeed have an organised infrastructure which make it well suited for provision of aid and charity;--largely derived from its previous take-over of the tools of society. However these advantages are neutralised by general opposition to contraception, abortion,
suicide, euthanasia, condoms, HIV control, at least by some Churches, (Catholic), and it’s provision of indoctrinating programs , Church and faith schools, and missionary evangelising. Why, after decades of Third World Aid, are the peoples in these countries able to quote the Bible, export their version of religion back to the home country,-- but apparently unable to reliably dig themselves wells and irrigation canals, efficient farming techniques, pest and disease control and an end to religious wars? Too busy praying? The fruits of Christianity are too well known to dwell upon. Attempts to take the credit for anything good produced by humans,-including most of Science, and the abolition of slavery. Religious wars, crusades, Inquisitions, modern squabbles over gay and woman priests and Bishops, further splits and schisms in heir own ranks, terrorism, censorship, waste of taxpayers money, The United States is locked in a vicious spiral of competitive religiosity among their political candidates, from which they are too fearful to break out, in case they lose the votes of a
Christian, Jewish or Islamic lobby,--or get assassinated by the latter. Is it any wonder that atheists exist, and that we are frustrated by being marginalised and discriminated against, and having to hear religion bombarding us from all sides on the media, and being unable to be born, get married or die, without some priest popping up and trying to take over? “Mankind will never be free until the last stone from the last Church drops on the head of the last priest”.—Emile Zola. Time for believers to grow up and join the modern world. Recently, to add another nail into the coffin of alleged Christian uniqueness, a 3 foot stone tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew on it, found near the Dead Sea, has begun to be translated, and consists of bits of the Old Testament dating from 1st century BC, which appear to describe a concept of resurrected Messiahs, well before Jesus was born.
Daniel Bovarin a professor of Talmudic culture at The University of California at Berkeley, said that the stone was part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that Jesus could be best understood through a close reading of the Jewish history of his day.” “Some Christians will find it shocking- a challenge to the uniqueness of their theologywhile other will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism”—Mr Bovarin said. This stone tablet is akin to the Dead Sea scrolls and Nag Hammadi texts which provide interesting extra material outside of the Gospels and Pauline epistles. However it is interesting how many Christians assign as late a date to them as possible, and pronounce them to be inauthentic and unreliable. Whereas the Gospels and Epistles, if not actually the Word of God himself,-are seen as contemporary with Jesus and literally true and independent testimonies,--as if Jesus had been followed around by a short-hand secretary recording his every utterance; instead, all of the Gospels copy each other, beginning about 40 years after Jesus’ death, -perhaps also using different bits if oral tradition, -and in any case
anonymous.—the writers whose names are attached to them being unknown. Tempting God The recently deceased George Carlin, (no doubt God’s punishment; still he was old),--in one of his stage performances asked God to strike the audience dead if God considered George to be blaspheming and denying the Holy Spirit;--which I thought was a nice touch, as well as hedging his (George’s) bets. But God didn’t,--so presumably we can consider it to be open season as far as denying the Holy Spirit is concerned,--especially also now that the antiquated British Blasphemy law has been repealed at last. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”; Matthew 4:7,--Luke 4:13,- which themselves refer back to Deuteronomy 6:16 - sounds impressive in 17th century KJV Bible English., and very impressive overall you might think, seeing as how they all said it. But why not? We are not allowed to challenge what the priests say God says, because it just might expose the fact that nothing actually ever happens when you do challenge a make146
believe god in the sky,--and the priests might lose face. In “Kings” in the Old Testament we have the story of Elijah challenging the priests of Baal, whose altar was consumed through the invocations of Elijah, -and then stood around obligingly while Elijah and co massacred them all;--probably sabotage. I suggest we might repeat this “Elijah test” under controlled conditions, with an altar of God (Jehovah) in one corner, and a display by Richard Dawkins and all the other New Atheists, even myself,--in the opposite corner; and then pray for one or other of them to be blasted by a thunderbolt from Heaven.
Chapter 7 Globalism and Tribalism One of the biggest complaints about globalisation is that as market forces sweep across the world, so does western culture,-and everywhere ends up being the same. One reaction to it is Local Culture, a notion which originated in the Romantic backlash against 18th century Enlightenment. Every island and every tribe now has to have its own culture; it even affects non-humans; Apes are also said to have different cultures among themselves depending upon what method they use to crack nuts and so on. So now we are all pluralists, multiculturalists,-and this is seen as progressive, anti-racist and the foundation of modern liberal democracies. We all have to be respected, or at least not “disrespected”,- whatever ancient religious notions like the re-introduction of Islamic Sharia Law, or primitive practices like footbinding or oppression of women, make up a tribe’s ancestral identity. Mistaken ideas like the Masai tribe’s belief that female genital mutilation is necessary for ensuring a woman’s fertility, are supposed to be respected because they are part of the tribe’s “tradition”.
But “ought” cannot be derived from “is”,--that is the Naturalistic Fallacy, a mistaken idea of the 19th century “Social Darwinists” that we ought to behave the way that Nature does, and which points to human nature as justifying the way we should behave, which then justifies capitalist exploitation, colonial oppression, racial savagery and even genocide. Customs which have existed for a long time should not necessarily be preserved for ever. A culture is defined by what its people actually do, not by what they ought to do. This means that primitive cultures can, and should be amenable to enlightened modern change without losing their identity. Many traditional cultures do not see it this way, and instead have turned in on themselves, become isolationist and extremist, leading to protests and terrorism against the swamping effect of secular Anglo-American and NATO global modernism. Islam considers itself under attack, and uses religious language for the political purpose of rejecting and attacking western secularism and promoting its own version of religious globalisation. Born as a child of the European Enlightenment, the idea of the modern nation
state is profound and simple: the State is created by the people within a given national territory. Secular nationalism, the idea that gave the nation-State it’s legitimacy,-contends that a nation’s authority is based on the secular idea of a social contract of equals, rather than on ethnic or sacred religious ties. It is an idea that is universally applicable. Unfortunately it went rather wrong by failing to deliver on human rights, democracy and economic progress world-wide, especially amongst those “artificial” countries created by former colonial powers, with arbitrary borders, and arbitrary names, like Pakistan, Indonesia, or Yugoslavia which had no traditions to hold them together, and so tended to instability or collapse. This has lead to suspicion of the very idea of a nation-State, and the resurgence of old traditions instead. One supporter of the Christian Right in the US has been quoted as saying “our enemy is the new world order”,-and Islam feels likewise. The vicious outbreaks of religious violence that have occurred in recent times, can be seen as tragic attempts to regain social control by those traditional groups who see themselves
being swamped by a tide of advancing secular global Capitalism. Until there is a surer sense of citizenship in a global order, religious visions of moral order will continue to appear an attractive, even a rational, solution to the problems of identity and belonging in a global world. The attempted return to religious fundamentalism has also resulted in literal interpretations of Holy books, and an aggressive defence of the statements within them, and therefore opposition to the conflicting assertions of modern Science, which has resulted in further grounds for rejecting Modernism. In some regions and countries this has further escalated into dangerous polarisation of attitudes, and even a desire for nuclear apocalypse as a supposed prelude to a new world order. It is more likely to return us all to the stone- age. So whose fault will it be if this comes to pass? All people seem to do what they think is right,--but they can’t all be right,--that would
be ethical relativism,-so someone must be absolutely wrong. When discussing with a Christian about religious wars and persecutions, they always like to play the “tribal conflict” card,-anything but blame Christian theology itself. Northern Ireland’s “troubles” for instance are blamed upon the differences between redhaired Celts and dark-haired neolithic earlier settlers, or upon invasion of Ulster by the English, and therefore political. But Christian evangelism is as much to blame, and shows up elsewhere in attempts to convert India, China, Iraq etc. South Sea Islanders were forced into tight collars and bras, American Indian children kidnapped and sent to Christian schools, and there is a tug –of-war situation in Africa between Christianity, Islam, and Voodoo. Until very recently, but still not completely gone, are greedy attacks on wild life and natives, justified by Christian reference to God giving the Earth to Adam’s descendents,though now it is excused as “stewardship” of the Earth, by whoever happens to believe they are “God’s chosen people”, formerly the “white Afrikaners”,-- and now fundamentalist
Americans,-- those Christian groups and nations who have taken this meme over from the Jews,- who originally contributed this intolerant idea to those Christian nations who deprived them, the Jews, of political power, -in the medieval period. However this was too late to avoid the heavyhanded exploitation and colonialism and theft of native culture and treasures. Europe is still divided into States which owe their existence and boundaries to religious conflicts between Muslims, and Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist and other Christian tribes, all adhering to their own version of absolute truth, and each having their own communication channel with God. “Many paths to God,” indeed. Suppose Christian or Islamic globalism was to occur, and the entire world’s people believed in one God. Some think that this would herald the Rapture, and Christ would come again and inaugurate a 1000 year Kingdom of Christ; (remember Hitler’s thousand- year Reich?). Of course it would not last, anymore than Hitler’s utopia did. Islam would not go away, and rival globalist powers would soon be at each others throats.
Jesus allegedly said “The Meek shall inherit the Earth”. This is very un-Darwinian,-the meek never inherit anything, -but even if they did it would not take long before a slightly less meek variant among them claimed leadership of the Meek, and thereby creating an ipso facto dictatorship, no doubt soon followed by the inevitable religious and political corruption, and a globalist theocracy which would suppress all political and cultural opposition. It happened before, at the end of the third century. The Christianised Roman Empire banned pagan temple worship, burned libraries, and persecuted “heretics” and dissidents, until only itself remained, in the form of the Church,-which then was able to claim to be the font of all culture and wisdom,having eliminated the opposition. But nothing lasts, and the Church is now diminished in power compared with its medieval heyday as the “Church Triumphant” before the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment severely weakened it.
Chapter 8 Mind, Brain, Soul, Spirit Baron d’Holbach once said that the “brain secretes thoughts in the same way as the liver secretes bile”. Given modern knowledge of brain anatomy and neurophysiology, as well as logic and computer studies,--there should be little dispute that the brain is, physically, a kind of massively parallel-connected computer,-- a sort of combination of neural net and serial processing machine. Like a computer, it stores memories, though these end to degrade over time unless repeatedly reinforced by re-visualisation of their original causes. As in a computer there appears to be short-term working memory, and longer-term more permanent memories. As animal studies progress, it is becoming apparent that consciousness is not limited to humans, but widespread amongst animals of all kinds. This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view, as consciousness appears to be a useful adaptive epiphenomenon associated with neural processing of information.
A conscious animal is one that can remember, and associate past memories with new incoming information via the senses, -compare and contrast them, and produce an output of appropriate behaviour, and anticipate the future in the light of knowledge so gained. Traditional religions tend to downgrade animal consciousness, as this is in their view, a Godgiven gift to his highest creation, Man.; and incidentally allows Man to ill-treat animals on the grounds that they are not conscious Beings with a “Soul”. Researchers like Pavlov and B.F. Skinner developed ”Behaviourism”, -the concept that the brains, especially of animals were a kind of “black box”,-whose internal workings were unknown and unimportant; all that mattered was that that they mediated somehow, a stimulus- response circuit of behaviour,--rather like a reflex knee-jerk. Behaviourism was eventually eclipsed by Cognitive studies. In “higher” animals the balance and coordination of the body is controlled in part by these reflex arcs, where for instance a slight stretching of a muscle is compensated by a rapid contraction of it so as to maintain posture,--as in the knee-jerk.
A electro-chemical message is rapidly propagated from the muscle via an afferent nerve, to the spinal cord,-and the motor response ordering the muscle to “tighten-up” is sent back to it from the spinal cord via an efferent nerve. Simultaneously the message is also sent up the spino-thalamic tract to the brain’s “Clapham junction” processor, and then on to the cerebral cortex where it becomes a consciousawareness response, telling the owner what is going on in the body; not every single detail, just the important bits. This conscious cerebral cortex level is the tricky bit, not yet fully understood,-- but it makes sense to regard it not as God-given magic, (a God-of-the-gaps “explanation”) but as a processing system which involves feedback loops between neurons and modules of neurons, in which past memories of the body’s physical state, and stored and concurrent information from the physical senses are all involved, and which are then output via efferent nerve fibres or inter-neurone synapses to those parts of the brain which are the endterminals of the sense organs –eg skin, eyes, ears, taste, smell,-so as to stimulate in them a kind of hallucination in which the animal or
Man is aware of himself and aspects of his environment. Alternatively, God implanted an immortal Soul or Spirit which flits around the neurons, presumably being unable to communicate with them in any way owing to being immaterial itself. It is therefore a little homunculus pulling the brain’s levers and pushing knobs. In addition it must be in every body cell, mixing bio-chemicals and moving around bits of DNA; a busy little fellow indeed; but all immaterially of course. Christians love to demand how the material brain can produce abstract thoughts, but they don’t query how an immaterial God or Spirit can produce material effects in the brain/body, or indeed in the wider physical world in the form of miracles. Or to sum up; how does Mind/Matter communication occur? One solution is to cut out the typical Descartian dualism, using Occam’s razor, and scrap the whole God/Soul hypothesis as defunct and outmoded. What, after all is “soul” or “spirit”? It can only be defined by what it is not, (Matter),-not by what it actually is, because it isn’t
anything;--a meaningless assertion,-an empty word. It is like the Ontological argument itself; just because one can mouth a word,- that does not mean that a “Spirit” can be conjured into existence just by making a noise with your lips. Or by creating an idea in your mind, which is merely a re-mix of other bits of ideas from elsewhere. Likewise, - “God” cannot be talked into existence by pseudo-logical or linguistic manoeuvres. Matter is supreme, with all it’s hidden atomic power; Materialism reigns! God is dead! -unless of course he would like to put on a little demo and prove I am talking nonsense; an easy thing for His Omnipotence; but then we must not forget the Christian compensatory move,-“Thou shall not tempt the Lord Thy God”;--it’s just like Chess or war-games isn’t it? Move and counter-move. This attitude is still widely prevalent among the God people. Some time ago in my philosophy group, we had a cohort of Earnest Christian Ladies, or ECL’s as I call them,-and during our discussion, or rather argument, one of them said in wide-eyed awestruck tones:
“—but the Soul, it comes from God, from God!!” Eventually I got on my high horse and informed them rather tartly, that this was a philosophy group, not a bible-study class. They went. So the progressive Modernists and the religious Traditionalist are still locked in battle, and the redoubts of the latter are the churches and faith schools where fossilised dogmas are still infecting the minds of children and encouraging sectarianism and attack on our freedom of thought. Notes: William of Ockham (Occam) English logician and Friar-14th century.
Chapter 9 Psychology Desire for something better in life than what must be the lot of the majority of humankind, and the need for explanations of natural phenomena, fear of the unknown, the desire for Justice or vengeance in another world, and the perceived need to control aspects of Nature by appeasing their presumed causal agents, the gods an spirits,-must surely be the cause for the existence of religion as a natural phenomenon in most people. There are some instances of peoples who have no concept of gods or religion generally,-one Mongolian tribe has been described in this respect,-but generally most people believe something about something. They are not, as some people would have you believe, born into the world praising Jesus and knowing the God of Israel. These concepts have to be taught by indoctrination, which, as opposed to “education” means being taught myths and beliefs rather than practical skills or verifiable hypotheses. An attempt was once made to assert that there is or was, a “Primitive Monotheism” in which
early man “knew” God.-(Adam presumably). This has been discredited. Rather, early attempts at religion involved spirit and ancestor worship, human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism, animism, totemism, fetishism, polytheism, and eventually monotheism;-which is not necessarily superior,--it just means that when you live in a desert you only really need one god of the sky, sands, earthquakes and volcanoes. Whereas an urban civilisation (like ancient Egypt), had lots of gods for this that and the other,--all the complexities of civilised living; eg gods of the hearth, of the Underworld, of Judgement, and recording of one’s deeds in life. This reminds me of an extremely tacky kitsch of a performance I once went to called “Heaven’s gate and Hell’s flames”. It was of course a visiting American evangelistic bandwagon come to convert we heathen locals to US-style Christianity. The stage was done up entirely in gold and silver foil,--to represent Heaven; the Recording angel reminded me of the Egyptian scribe-god Thoth,--except that she was a “she”, and was recording “sins” of the
deceased into what appeared to be a dirty exercise book, all-the-while wearing a silly fixed grin (to show what fun Heaven is). This concept is stolen almost compete, but altered of course, from an Egyptian scene of the Judgement of the soul of the scribe “Ani” before Osiris, recorded by Thoth, from the New Kingdom, the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. Families from the audience were brought up on stage, and their members,- parents and children were separated out into the Saved and the Damned,--a concept I found especially nauseating. Then came the “miracles”; grown men were skipping around the stage waving their arms and speaking in tongues,-or else falling backwards as they do,-into the obliging arms of assistants, while under the influence of the Holy Spirit. One poor old lad lady, crippled with rheumatism, struggled up on stage,-got blessed, and immediately started cavorting about crying “Yippee, Jesus has cured me”— and so forth. Talk about needing to show a bit of “gravitas”. Of course no genuine cures of genuine ailments occurred; no missing limbs suddenly grew back.
All good clean fun you might think,--except that this sort of thing is taught to children as fact, and as a substitute for modern medicine,as well as being highly socially disruptive,into “us” the Saved, and “them” the Damned. All of these strange beliefs continue to be propagated by those who would rather cosy up together in a Brotherhood of Silliness than use their “God-given” intelligence. “Fools for Christ” –indeed! It further reminds me of the time I was turned away from visiting the Sistine Chapel because I was wearing shorts. I thought of explaining to the Swiss Guard that as God had made my knees, presumably it was alright to display them;--but I thought better of it. I got in later, after getting changed; same thing happened at the Catacombs. Placebo Effects The psychological effects of rituals, incantations and “magic”,- as well as the medicinal use of “dummy” pills, is not fully understood according to a recent article in New Scientist magazine; but although they occur, they do not seem to last;-paralysis is not cured for longer than it takes the patient to take up his bed and walk and then disappear
round the corner out of sight and out of mind,whatever claims are made later on by gullible wishful-thinkers, or by actual deception to propagate the myth of miracle cures. The blind do not really regain their sight, except in those rare cases of hysterical blindness; and socalled glove-and-stocking hysterical anaesthesia in a hand or foot happens occasionally but is a known medical phenomenon. Limbs do not grow back,despite the assurances I had recently from a Christian lady, who quickly changed the subject when asked for a demonstration to be arranged. Yet I am sure she believed it somehow, and was not deliberately lying for Jesus, though that does happen. Otherwise doctors and surgeons would be out of business. Similarly “glossolalia,-or “speaking in tongues”, which is claimed to be ancient languages, cannot be identified as such, eg Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. It seems to be genuinely believed that a Holy Spirit descends upon those who are taking Communion, or being blessed with Holy Water. All these blessings and baptisms had their earlier counterparts in Jewish rites, and in still
earlier pagan practices. The use of Holy Water is clearly a sanitised, Christianised version of animal and human blood sacrifice, derived in part from bathing in the blood of a bull during the worship of Mithras (also born 25th December),-as is the consuming of the “blood and body of Christ” at Holy Communion.
Christian Questions By now Christians will be lining up to ask the usual questions of anyone who questions their presuppositions and circular arguments: 1. Why do you hate God? It is frustrating that one hears this so often, when one has been at pains to give sound reasons for not believing in the existence of the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic God, originally invented by Abraham if , (God forbid) we are to believe everything in the Old Testament. It’s as if they cannot distinguish the difference. I reply by saying that I do not know anyone called God, and therefore I do not hate someone I don’t know. This works well enough in other situations where one is asked to pass an opinion on another person,-but somehow a God is different. It is assumed that we must know them, and to ram home the point, Christians will say “Ah, but he knows you and loves you”! How on Earth do they know this? Has God himself told them personally ( pre-supposing that he exists in the first place)? They must be very important to be
in on his day to day plans and opinions. But then we all like to feel important. Of course they believe this, otherwise why pray unless they think their prayers are being answered in the form of an update on God’s personal program for them and everyone else whom they wish to convert? This, despite the recorded fact, that clinical trials show no influence at all on medical cures or benefits though prayer,-other than statistical chance, which works out at a level of about 0.02% of prayers answered favourably, (which for the non-mathematical readers means 99.98% of prayers are unanswered,)- but who cares as long as you have faith? It is evidently hard to determine objectively what counts as a favourable result from praying,-which is why all such conclusions have to be taken with a large pinch of salt. Naturally those wishing for favourable results will see them everywhere; but always subjectively. It is notable that missing limbs never regenerate no matter how hard one prays,--and the British Royal Family, possibly the most prayed-for group on Earth, still experience their statistical share of misfortunes.
Do they not know that prayer is blasphemous? Think about it; you are demanding that God should change his Divine Plan just for your convenience, and maybe just for 5 minutes, after which you may give him permission to carry on as ordained from the beginning of Time? Are you then surprised when we atheists conclude that you invented God for your own human purpose and not the other way round? But you can rest easy; thanks to secular efforts for the last 140 years, the archaic British Blasphemy Law (which only applies to Anglicans),--has finally been repealed. So you won’t burn in Hell,--though this has the downside that you will not be allowed (at least in theory), to carry on burning and torturing atheists and heretics either. 2. Do you hate Christianity? Yes, sort of. I regard it as a perversion of history, culture and Science, and nothing more than a breakaway Jewish sect with heavy influences from Egyptian, Indian, Greek and other middle-Eastern religions and philosophies, which was adopted by the late Roman Empire for political reasons, and
enforced through the Middle Ages for the same reason by it’s successor, the Vatican. A baleful influence against education and further scientific humanistic progress. A concerted attempt to return us to at least a medieval existence, and perhaps beyond that, to a mythical new Garden of Eden,--a time of supposed innocence. A dogged determination to retain a supernatural interpretation of our world, akin to belief in fairies and Santa Claus regardless of what rational science has to say, or how many qualified scientists say it. After all, isn’t Science always getting it wrong, notwithstanding the accumulated scientific benefits which you Christians enjoy along with the rest of us? Ever tried major surgery without an anaesthetic, blood transfusion or antibiotics? To continue: the offensive pushiness of Evangelists who won’t take “no” for an answer, and the assumed self-righteousness of those who “know” God, and whose Church thinks they own all human culture. Also the determination of fundamentalists whether Catholic or Protestant, to infiltrate politics, and have a voice in the European Union in defiance of democratic electoral processes.
As a further example of pushiness: I was once rehearsing a choral work in a local Catholic Church,--for want of space elsewhere, when the vicar rushed up to me, said ”Bless you my son”, and dabbed my forehead with holy water. I thought it was a good joke,--but still---. The burns on my forehead have only just healed! 3. Do you hate Christians? No not universally, though some are obviously beyond the Pale, from my point of view. Christians are also human beings, and as such, have human failings as well as the potential to achieve great things. Christians have contributed their share of contributions to human knowledge and culture,--not because they have Jesus, but simply because they are human, and some of them are intelligent and artistic and talented, just as much as any other member of the human race that comes from a culture outside of the Christian Roman sphere of influence,and its modern colonies. Atheists and modern Christians can co-operate by emphasising their similarities and downplaying their differences;
but I would claim that this can only be done at the expense of “real” Christian fundamentalism, and by treating the Bible as interesting fiction for the most part, excepting the bits of garbled history, and the undisputed literary, poetic and instructive parts which we can all enjoy; for instance, a favourite of mine is David’s Lament,--which is great, in the King James Version. I have not bothered to check it out in vulgar modern editions, nor in the ancient Hebrew. So if Christianity continues to undergo the typical Darwinian adaptive radiation into almost unrecognisable new variants, which it has done so far, and evolves into a vague Humanism, even with the Jesus label still attached,--then we may all get a bit of peace from it at last, and learn to live together more fully. 4. Hasn’t atheism been refuted? Definitely not; the only thing which could do that would be the actual appearance of God himself, and no, Jesus was not God. Besides, we are well overdue for a real unequivocal appearance to sort out the confusion and opposing claims. There are no valid logical or
empirical proofs of the existence of God,--so Atheism is the default state. Prof. Alistair McGrath responded to the “God Delusion”, by Richard Dawkins,- by writing The “Dawkins Delusion”; whereupon I wrote an article to the Freethinker called the “McGrath Delusion” and I am still waiting for the “Le Sueur Delusion” to appear in due course. This could go on for ever. Prof McGrath printed out my mild criticism of Humanism in his book, optimistically titled: “The Twilight of Atheism”,- which I had previously sent to the Freethinker, in which I describe Humanism as rather dull compared with the rousing sermons, hymns, and happyclapping. He agreed, and gave the impression that Christian services are all about just entertainment,--like a good pantomime. Is that what it has come down to? A performance to impress the congregation? Christian tactics The “double statement”: This is made upon the unquestioning presupposition of the existence of the biblical
God,-eg “God loves you”. It is no use responding to this by saying “no he doesn’t”-because you then are tacitly accepting the Christian’s statement and belief that God exists,( obviously if God does not love you then he must exist, in order to either love or not love you). This is a court-room tactic used by shady barristers along the lines of “When did you stop beating your wife?”;--it presupposes that you were actually beating her at some time; and is therefore biased against you. Questions from me. Why have so many people throughout history apparently loathed Christianity, including of course the Jews and many Muslims? Is it the fanaticism, the intolerance, the antiintellectualism, the anti-sex and anti-life itself Christian rhetoric, and the riding rough-shod over other people’s beliefs and customs? Why did Pliny the Younger refer to their “contemptible superstition? Why did the Stoic Emperor Marcus Aurelius also hold them in contempt?
Why so many liars for Jesus, including Paul, Bishop Eusebius, Lactantius? Why did Celsus write against them and cause the Church father Origen to write “Contra Celsum”—in an unsuccessful attempt to rebut him? Why did Julian the Apostate try to reverse the conversion of the Roman Empire? Did Nero really persecute on such a scale as has been claimed? Did he really burn Rome or was it Jewish and Jewish Christian fanatics? Modern anti-clerics, Deists Atheists Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Marx, Engels, and of course Stalin, ( nonWesterns like Mao and Pol Pot don’t count as anti-Christian,-they came from a Buddhist tradition). 60% of main-stream Scientists, and 93-96% of top Scientists, and of course the “New Atheists”,--Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and many others.
All of the above are distinguished by their intelligence and intellect. To confirm this point, many recent studies have shown an inverse relationship of intelligence and religious belief. Of course one type of Christian will glory in their anti-intellectualism,--just as another type is trying to show how sophisticated modern Christianity is,--which usually only results in showing up its abstruseness and obfuscation. A few Atheist and Agnostic composers and poets Percy Shelley, the composers Faure, Delius, Berlioz, Verdi, -to name a few. I heard about a performance of Delius’ “Mass of Life” given in a Church, for want of adequate space elsewhere. Afterwards it was “blessed” by the female vicar; -a typical example of Christians grabbing what does not belong to them. Other famous atheists David Hume, Sigmund Freud, Sir Karl Popper, Arthur C Clark, Sir John Gielgud, Peter
Ustinov, Noam Chomski, Marlon Brando, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov--and many more. As long as humans are at different stages of cultural evolution there will inevitably be opposing views on the big questions of Life, and most likely conflicts between them will persist. Only Universal standardized education might resolve the problem. That will probably take forever. ____________ By now, traditionalist Christians will have consigned me to Hell-fire. The “sophisticated” ones will be using expressions like “sad” or “sorrowful” or else smiling indulgently and patronizingly and saying that modern Christians are not like that;- a few maybe. But if they have always had God’s Truth, then why are they at different stages of development and cultural evolution? Some are highly sophisticated and intelligent; others are quite bovine and uncomprehending. They will point to their “good works” or the great Cathedrals as works of faith,-forgetting perhaps, that non-believes also give to charity
and have the motivation to build great monuments and edifices.
Chapter 11 Early Critics of Christianity Considering that Christianity is the final word from God (apart from Islam, but that is another matter),-it seems to have attracted a remarkable degree of dissention from its earliest days. This little book may be seen as concentrating upon mostly knocking Christianity in order to demonstrate the falsity of God-belief, and therefore promoting atheism as the default condition. As others have pointed out, -this is because 1. we are in a Christian part of the world, from a cultural and demographic point of view, and 2. Because it is the most objectionably aggressive and proselytising form of the Abrahmic religion that has been our misfortune to be born under. As the Gospels and Paul’s Epistles seem not to be adequate to establish the truth of Christian claims, they have sought to find non-Biblical references to Jesus as alleged Son of an alleged God. They have mentioned Flavius Josephus , and his “Testamonium Flavium” which purports to describe Jesus as Divine; but which has been universally dismissed by scholars as a
fraudulent interpolation. Others such as Suetonius and Tacitus mentioned Christians as existing,--which is not quite the same as saying that Jesus existed as either Man or God. We already know that Christians exist and existed (don’t we just?!). The Letters of Pliny the Younger to the Emperor Trajan were less than complimentary to Christians. Suetonius mentions only that “the Jews in Rome were rioting on account of “Chrestos”,who could have been anyone. Tacitus (around 100 AD), talks about the Christians, but cannot of course confirm that he was the Risen Christ. Instead he puts doubt on Nero’s persecution of Christians: “Moreover, there may have been some element of distorted truth in the accusation (that Nero started the fire), because the Christians believed that Rome would be destroyed during Christ's return. They must have responded enthusiastically when they saw "Babylon" burning, and in fact, Tacitus tells us that at least some of them pleaded guilty, i.e. admitted something that their interlocutors interpreted as a confession.”
The above is just a sketchy summary of Christian claims and their refutation. Apart from the deceits of the early Christian Fathers, including Paul, that we touched on earlier.-there were early stronger critics such as Celsus,--whose works have been lost though Christian censorship; we only know of it because of Origen’s reply to him,- “Contra Celsum”. Then “Julian the Apostate” tried to undo the ruination of Rome under the Christians, and was assassinated for his pains, (see Gibbon’s “Decline & Fall” and his primary sources eg Ammianus Marcellinus.) Libanius, was a Greek speaking- pagan philosopher of the late Empire, born around the year 314, who spoke up for religious tolerance, before their way of life was submerged beneath increasing fanaticism. Prior to that, as well as afterwards,- there were the dozens of “heretical” sects, which had to be gradually stamped out by Rome,--which tends rather to undermine any Christian claim to a monolithic claim to authenticity by any one of the various “interpretations” of the “greatest story ever told”,--except for the surviving one of course.
Since then, we have had the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and the “New Atheists”,--all expressing discontent with the Christian juggernaut under which we were and are submerged,-imposed by the Catholic Church, and enforced by the Inquisition,--which still survives under the more innocent- sounding title of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”. As mentioned earlier, the “fruits” of Christ’s teachings, even if distorted by Christians since his time, have further undermined it as being anything other than a human institution which exists only for it’s own benefit. The only thing that is good about it is it’s sporadic Humanism, which was pre-existing anyway, and in other places,--and its strong centralized governments in the Vatican and its Christian post-Roman colonies. Everything else is myth and fiction. How to tell if you are a real believing Christian,-or not. 1. - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
2. - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt. 3. - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God. 4. - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees! 5. - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
6. - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old. 7. - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving." 8. - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity. 9 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to
be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God. 10. - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian. A summary of desperate Christian attempts to “explain” natural and other disasters,- especially 9/11, and the Indian Ocean tsunami. 1. If (say) 270,000 people died in the tsunami, then God’s Mercy is the reason why it was not 270,001. Never mind that it probably will be after the next re-count of bodies). 2. The reason that people help each other or make contributions to a disaster fund is because of God. (All social animals eg Elephants, Dolphins help each other. Humans have evolved sociability to a higher degree,-this is what makes us Human))
3. The reason a mother tries to rescue her children is because of God. !! (Look up Natural Selection). 4. The reason why a preponderance of helpless babies and young children perished in the tsunami is because they are the poorest and live closer to the coasts and have less supportive infrastructure. This was offered by a Christian as an “explanation”. Well precisely:-it is a naturalistic explanation, not a God explanation. They have stolen a naturalistic explanation from atheists. 5. The old favourite: “It happened so that good might come out of it”- ie that people would join together in rescue. So God has to cause, or negligently allow, tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths in order to make people feel good about themselves and each other? 6. People help each other because they have a “Divine spark”. This is an unprovable metaphysical assertion,also meaningless if there is no God. 7. And of course the obvious: “It is God’s punishment”—for what? What behaviour can justify such slaughter?191
maybe they weren’t Christians , but heathens?—maybe they were the wrong sort of Christian? Maybe they were the right sort of Christian but not diligent enough in praising God? 8. “God’s ways are beyond human understanding”. !!! 9. Satan did it. 10. God was demonstrating his Power, and culling his creation---Homicidal maniac!! 11. “It was nothing to do with God”— precisely;- so then, what good is God, and all that prayer and adulation? If God did not even notice, or care, - what good is he? Could the reason be perhaps that he does not even exist? 12 .One Apologist asserted that Men have killed far more people than God. This raises two points: 1. Even if true,- is God then synonymous with Natural Disasterand just a metaphor for it? 2. Who created Men to behave that way, and gave them Freewill?—God, allegedly. So we can justifiably blame God-if he exists,-or more justifiably assert that he does not. 13. God was testing our Faith!
Chapter 12 The Future It has I believe been stated that the Catholic Church, as well as evangelical Protestant ones, being always eager for new converts, are poised for the time when, or more likely if,-new alien civilisations are discovered on Earth-like planets, As well as taking over the work of impartial astronomers, the Vatican has it’s own observatory, which presumably is scouring the heavens for God, or flocks of angels, or at least new planets for conversion. One can imagine how it would be; just think back to meso-American Aztec, Inca and other civilisations and their ruination by Gospel spreading, gold-seeking monks and various assorted thugs-for-God. In this way the Human infection could spread throughout the Universe, with new cycles of wars, witch – hunts, and suppression of heretics. Do not be fooled by modern apparent Christian, or even Islamic “tolerance” and benignity. Such pleasantness occurs in inverse proportion to the power which religion is able to command at any one time.
The Church, right from the start, has demonstrated typical Darwinian evolution by adaptive radiation; that is,-by throwing up new variations (heresies),-spreading out into ideologically unpopulated areas where such variants can find an ecological niche, and spreading out to increase their influence in the meme –pool; yes I am talking “memetics” not “genetics”, but it is an apt analogy. Nowadays, missionary activity continues unabated, without producing more than superficial civilising effects,-but rather, increasing sectarianism within third-world populations. The most religious and belligerent nation on Earth, the U.S., considers it it’s divine mission to encircle other nations militarily, to impose its own idea of democracy and freedom of religious worship, just so long as secularism is weakened, despite it’s own First Amendment, and preferably some major Christian sect,- or as a poor second best, Islam, is encouraged to flourish, in order to check the growth of “unbelief”. The world is becoming increasing polarised between contending versions of belief,-just as in the major historical schisms within the Church, -but now on a global scale; perhaps, as mentioned above, it will become a war in
the heavens between Catholic, Islamic, and various Protestant and secular ones. The Catholic Church of course wants to give the impression of monolithic, monotheistic unity of belief and dogma,--but of course it is vulnerable to the “Darwinian imperative” like all evolving systems; hence its continuing war against Liberal Theology, Progressive Revelation, renegade priests and bishops-and godless scientific activities like the use of condoms, euthanasia, contraception , abortion and stem cell research;--all the things with which scientists try to reduce human misery,mostly caused by unchecked population growth. Hence the rise of the New Atheism as an attempted check on runaway religious world domination. We will just have to wait and see how it all pans out, though it seems difficult to see how the Catholic Church can continue in its fixed rules and dogmas without becoming increasing isolated and marginalised by an educated and secular populace who have a greater grasp of science, and of logical rational arguments. In addition there is increasing knowledge of biblical origins and ancient history and archaeology by scholars which is filtering
down into the population at large, the original intention for which was the confirmation of Christian dogma, but which instead is serving to undermine all of its supernatural claims. On the other hand if the Catholic Church relaxes its grip and allows itself to “evolve”,then the original authenticity of its teachings will become diluted out of existence. How can this happen to the assertions of a fixed and unchanging Holy Book? It must be an impossible dilemma for the Pope and cardinals; change or die; change and die anyway. The Protestant sects face the same problem. The Anglican Church is already in trouble with rifts and schisms occurring over women priest and bishops, and gay clergy. More evangelical sects are arising from the third world, whose rather naïve and simple – minded proponents try, amidst increasing ridicule, to purvey their frankly daft message, and methods of encouraging it,- in the postChristian West. Christian “retreats” and “Alpha courses” may have novelty appeal for some young, bored and naïve teenagers,-but it appears to soon wear off, generally. It has become a simplistic faith for mainly senile old women, and staunch conservative middle-class
die-hards, and their uncomprehending children. Then they have to contend now with the competition of Islam, and the ridicule and opposition of atheists. “Suffer little children”,--Jesus is supposed to have said. I don’t think he meant for his followers to become simple-minded and gullible ignoramuses whose knowledge of the real world is in direct inverse proportion to the amount of time they spend hymn-singing, Bible- reading, praying, as well as preying,on the rest of us. Surveys have been done which confirm this inverse relationship. See below: GOD MAKES YOU STUPID, RESEARCHERS CLAIM Intelligence begot atheism By Chris Williams Published Thursday 12th June 2008 11:06 GMT A psychology researcher has controversially claimed that stupidity is causally linked to how likely people are to believe in God. University of Ulster professor Richard Lynn will draw the conclusion in new research due
to be published in the journal Intelligence, the Times Higher Education Supplement reports. Lynn and his two co-authors argue that average IQ is an excellent predictor of what proportion of the population are true believers, across 137 countries. They also cite surveys of the US Academy of Sciences and UK Royal Academy showing single-digit rates of religious belief among academics. That professional skeptics don't believe in a creator is perhaps not all that surprising. Lynn argues, however, that it is their intelligence that directly gives rise to the boffinated classes' non-God-bothering tendencies. He said: "Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population." Lynn pointed out that most children do believe in God, but as their intelligence develops they tend to have doubts or reject religion. Similarly, as average IQ in Western societies increased through the 20th century, so did rates of atheism, he said.
The researchers' claims of a direct causal link have drawn criticism from others in intelligence researches, who argue their conclusions are too simplistic. London Metropolitan University's Dr David Hardman said: "It is very difficult to conduct true experiments that would explicate a causal relationship between IQ and religious belief. Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability - or perhaps willingness - to question and overturn strongly felt intuitions." Numerous studies have also failed to demonstrate any effect, greater than chance,-of prayer upon medical conditions, or any other useful effect of it, other than it’s placebo or psychological effects; certainly not enough to claim that it contribute to objective knowledge in any way. Summary For all the reasons given in this little book, we atheists reject religious faith as a barbarous left-over from primitive early days of human history, and wish to make it clear to
evangelists that their efforts to bend us to their will are not welcome. Reginald Le Sueur. Jersey. Channel Islands. U.K.
Appendix: Reasons not to believe 1. Original Sin –Adam & Eve- talking snakes—all anti- Evolutionary and biologically impossible. 2. If no Original Sin, then no need for Salvation, Incarnation, Resurrection and Redemption. (or Jesus). 3. Jesus will reign over the House of Jacob forever;-false, and now impossible anyway. ((Luke i.2628.) 4. Jesus was supposed to come again very soon. He hasn’t. 5. “A Believer can handle poisonous snakes and drink poison” (Mark 16:17-18)---WRONG1 6. Jesus unnatural alleged Miracles. Can the Pope turn water into wine, in Jesus’ name? 7. Jesus intolerance to unbelievers, and to a harmless fig tree, which he cursed for not bearing fruit out of season. 8. His belief in Evil Spirits as the cause of disease. Is modern
medicine and bacteriology all wrong? 9. Where did God live before he created Heaven and what was he doing before that, for all eternity? 10. There was night and day on earth, before He created the Sun. 11. Plants began to grow before there was sunlight. 12. God said every seed-yielding plant was good to eat.-- ? Hemlock, Deadly Nightshade?) 13. Didn’t God know that humans would “sin” before he launched his Flood to destroy them all? 14. God takes part in a wrestling match with Jacob, and wins by injuring Jacobs hip!!! Genesis 32: 24-32. 15. God tried to kill his own prophet Moses!! (Exodus 4:24),-and on another occasion shows him his backside!!!-Ex 33.23 16. God says he will blot out the memory of Amalek, (and then preserves it by a mention in the Bible!)
17. Genesis is incompatible with modern science, so is the whole of science wrong? 18. Gods cure for leprosy is Incantations and the blood of a bird! 19. Heaven is to be inhabited in part, by 144,000 virgin men who have not been defiled by women!! (Revelations 14:1-4) 20. Jesus has not conquered death. He has caused 2000 years of murder and mayhem instead, and confused our children. 21. Other God-men like Jesus, eg. Krishna, Mithras, Attis, and Jesus imitators like Apollonius of Tyana, Alexander etc. 22. Random pain, suffering, and destruction. 23. Irreconcilable attributes of God. 24. Trying to explain one mystery (the Universe and Life), by inventing a second mystery (God). 25. Pascal’s Wager is inconclusive at best, on logical and moral grounds, and dishonest, and can be applied to any god or belief system. (We
had better believe in Zeus or Apollo, just in case.) 26. Religious Harm; Time & money wasted on building Churches. Time wasted on prayer. “Miracle healing” that goes wrong. Opposition to contraception & Euthanasia. Interference with human rights, eg Gays & unbelievers. Promoting AIDS by opposing condoms. Honour killings. Brutal punishments. War & genocide. Opposing modern science, especially Evolution & geology,- & so damaging Education, and censoring free thought & free speech. Damaging “primitive” cultures. 27. The persistence and increase of unbelief, after 2000 years of Christianity,-as well as rival faiths. 28. Faults of the Church, especially child abuse. 29. Animal suffering. 30. “You can’t prove God does not exist”-Answer:”Nor can I prove Amon-Ra, Zeus, Aphrodite, and the Great Invisible Pink Unicorn in the Full Glory of Her Ineffable Pinkness don’t exist—therefore
“obviously” they all do, and we should build temples and worship them all! 31. Hitler tried to exterminate the deafmutes and infirm of all types from the population,- and was therefore “evil”. Nature does exactly the same thing through Natural Selection; therefore Nature is also “evil”. If Nature is God’s evil creation, then God is “evil” in the same way as Hitler--- Discuss. .32.Two different versions of Book of Genesis. 33. People have been brainwashed into dependency on God or Jesus, by Churches with vested interests. 34. The Roman Catholic Church is the continuation of the Roman Empire in the West, and uses psychological blackmail, ie the threat of Excommunication (and formerly torture and burning), instead of the Legions in order to try and keep control; of its former provinces. 35. Nuns are converted Vestal Virgins.
36. The unsolved (for Christians) Problem of Evil 37. Countries and Cities divided by Religion. 38. If Jesus was the last word in God’s revelation,- then why Islam? 39. It all goes back to Isaac or Ishmael,--which one to follow? ( as Believers feel obliged to follow, rather than lead.) 40. Beware a Superpower controlled by religious fanatics, the U.S.,-it will try to provoke Armageddon,- as it sees it. 41. Long lists of Biblical absurdities, atrocities, inconsistencies, fraudulent forgeries, and false or inaccurate testimonies eg. the Testamonium Flavium of Josephus, and the irrelevant comments of Suetonius and Tacitus.,Apocryphal, non-canonical, and carefully selected NT Gospels. 42. Messiah rivals, contemporary with Jesus, Theudas, and Simon of Galilee 43. EUTHYPRO argument: “Is something “Good” because God says it is, - if so, then God is just a tyrant dictator.
If something is “Good” anyway, then there is something higher and prior to God, so he is not completely omnipotent, but has to conform to higher realms of Morality, just like the rest of us. 44. “God is always good and acts according to his nature”,--comment:-but then God is restricted to having only one nature and being obliged to stick to it,- and so again, is not omnipotent. 45. Is the existence of Yahweh more credible than that of Zeus , Apollo, or Amon-Ra?- if so, explain. 46. The most credible explanation of the Jesus saga is that he planned to be the expected Messiah himself, and acted the part even down to a mock crucifixion which he survived,” in order that ”the Scripture might be fulfilled”—(John 19:32,33,36.) 47. The “Freewill” defence fails because 1. God could have made us to always choose to do good, rather than evil.. 2. Natural disasters are not the fault of man. 3. The doctrine of Original Sin means that humans are
born in sin and unable to not sin, and therefore do not have freewill. 48. God tries to persuade us that he created us in 6 days, and then shoots himself in his divine foot by sending along Charles Darwin to teach us the exact opposite, --that we gradually evolved over 4 billion years;--absent minded, or what? 49. Can God do the impossible,-make 2+2=5 or change the value of pi. If not, he is not omnipotent, if so, then the Universe would be in chaos and without any logical causality. 50. Can a decomposing body be resurrected? Even if hermetically sealed (and how many are?),-in order to prevent the escape of gaseous breakdown products, eg. Ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulphide. 51. Supporters of the Kalam Cosmological argument delight in saying how the Universe could not even begin to arise out of nothing. Even if God was omnipotent, his creativity would be limited by the material he was working with: ie, -precisely nothing. Could even God
scoop up a handful of nothing, and create a Universe out of it? 52.Why should anyone believe in a Deus Absconditas? (an absent God) 53. God is (allegedly) conscious and intelligent himself already; so why create an inferior copy in Man? And if (allegedly), it was an act of love and sharing,- why not just procreate himself in Heaven with a chosen superior Divine consort whom he could have first created, and not bother with Earth at all? And further; as God’s love is (allegedly) perfect, infinite, and boundless,- then why are all the neighbouring planets in our solar system not bursting with intelligent life (and all praising God while they’re at it),- as far as we can observe. And of course what about the rest of the Universe,- all dark and empty, or pulsating with god –fearing Christians? 54. God’s lack of manners. If I talk (pray) to someone, I expect them to pay attention occasionally.
. The absurd variety and volume of living things (similar to the absurd size of the Universe). If created, it signifies a Creator gone mad. However natural genetic variation over billions of years explains it far more plausibly. The Pauline Corpus dates from the third century, with no original material before that. ? An interpolation, as part of the incipient Catholic Tradition. Why can’t an omnipotent God destroy all unbelievers, and so usher in his Kingdom? (And don’t give us the weak excuse of Freewill).
58. Freewill is an illusion. Every event has a cause, except maybe at the quantum level. Apparent Freewill is due to the vast tangled variety of preceding causes, which give the false impression of free choice. True Freewill, uncaused, is equivalent to chaos.
Theists say: most of Humanity has always had a concept of Godtherefore he exists: (Ontological Argument). Atheists say: as an evolutionary adaptation, most of Humanity has a tendency to Anthropomorphise,-to see faces in the clouds, or Jesus in a bowl of spaghetti (it happened!).God is just an extension of this,-the Big Man; therefore there is no God as such. Besides can you really compare the bloodthirsty Hindu goddess Kali, with gentle Jesus? - so there is no consensus on what God is. Therefore reject the whole concept.
60. The long time taken for Christians to establish hospitals, compared with Islam and China, (suffering is God’s will). The long time taken to abolish slavery, to institute Human Rights and Social Reform (and the actual condonement of slavery in the meantime), and the Bible – condoned exploitation and
colonisation of “primitive” peoples. It took Enlightenment thinkers as well as economic pressures to change the system, even if people like Quakers and some individual Christians were also highly involved in doing so. . 61. 9/11/ Asian tsunami 62. The on-going situation in that murderous place, “the Holy Land”.
The propensity of human males for rape and child abuse, (made in God’s image).
64. The absurdity of sexual intercourse-God must have a sense of humour. 65. The absurdity, as well as the pain,of childbirth- blamed,- very unconvincingly ,-on Original Sin. 66. Homo floresiensis.
67. Omnimax God is incoherent (Necessarily false). 1. Existence of Evil which God being omnipotent and omniscient could abolish but does not. Is Evil so good for us? Does so much good come out of it that it is worth continual slaughter, sickness and mayhem? (AIDS, Tsunamis, 9/11) 2. An Omnipotent God can do anything, including a spontaneous act like Creation of the Universe. Also being Omniscient he knows everything, including everything he will ever do- which means however that he cannot do anything spontaneous, or make any changes to his plans, because he has fixed the future- which means he is not Omnipotent after all.—or maybe he is, and so could change the future; but if he changes the future, then he did not know the future originally,-so he is not omniscient—or maybe etc-etc---
68. God, in the OT, was a stern punisher of sinners, and was always smiting people: why then does he suddenly decide to become a victim of all those sinners by getting himself crucified? 69. Tremendous wastefulness in Nature, unused pollen and sperms, infant mortality—and this from a God that condemned Onan for spilling his seed on the ground. 70 Why did God create human anatomy so that males had the opportunity, ability and desire to insert their penises into orifices for which they were not intended,-and then condemn humans for following such inclinations? 71. Theistic Evolution: This is the Christian attempt to take over Darwinian Evolution for God.. A successful scientific theory like Darwinian Evolution explains and predicts, entirely by itself. In T.E. however, God is alleged to have
created Evolution and sustain it, thereby interfering at every stage, each mutation is created, “guided” natural selection occurs. This is no longer a self-sufficient theory and so is pointless and false. 72. Intelligent Design: proposes that “Something” (God) designed the Universe. Christians are fond of saying that God is “outside of space and time”. This is reasonable according to their logic, otherwise God would be contained in and a part of his own creation,-so we can’t have that. But if God is outside “our” space-time, he cannot be completely space less and timeless, otherwise he could not exist nor perform any temporal action (like creating Universes);-- so he must exist in another Universe (or Dimension);so there are at least two Universes now,--where did this God-verse come from?—did he create it around himself?-but why bother if he was already pre-existent and self-sufficient? If there are two Universes, then why not more,--like an infinite number?
But if there are, they must be slightly different from each other, eg the Godverse must be “superior” and therefore have different “Fine-constants” which are better adapted for containing a God, then is our own “human” Universe. Therefore we have a situation of a Megaverse consisting of many slightly mutated Universes which will compete with each other for supremacy in the survival game,--until one or more of them evolve fine constants which are tuned so as to allow the emergence of intelligent human life. Therefore any proposal for Intelligent Design immediately destroys itself because it inevitably leads to the conclusion of “Cosmic Evolution” instead. Also one must ask what the point of a perfect intelligent God is in creating an inferior human version of intelligence. According to the Ugaritic texts, --Yahweh already had a divine consort “Asherah”, who was presumably more intelligent than any human.
73 Christians propose the Transcendental Argument for God, which is supposed to prove his existence logically. (TAG). They propose that Logic and Science are dependent on Christian Theism. However, any statement about the existence of god, or the veracity of the Bible is itself dependent on preexistent Logic. Logic is therefore a necessary truth, and God himself is dependent upon it. (See also the Euthypro argument above.) 74. The Missionary Position This purports to be an argument against the existence of the Christian God. I don't know if it's original, but I've never seen it used before. I'm sure that it can use some tightening up, so maybe you the readers, can consider it for yourselves. Let's start with a few premises. 1) God exists. 2) God is omnibenevolent.
3) God has a plan of salvation. 4) God wants his sheep to spread his word to all unbelievers. 5) Despite God's desire for all to be saved, there are many millions, probably billions of people who have died or will die never having heard his word. 6) Since God is a just God (from #2) it follows that those who have never heard the word will still go to heaven. It follows from #6 that if there is a Christian God with a plan of salvation that you are far better off never hearing about it. In other words the missionary work of the church actually condemns souls instead of saving them. Since the idea of a plan of salvation that works best for you if you never hear about it is absurd, it follows that the entire New Testament is absurd, since it purports to reveal this plan. It therefore follows that
the notion of the Christian God is absurd. 75. The Universe is far too large and too old to have been designed by an omni-deity with life as- we- know-it on Earth. If there is older life elsewhere in the Universe it is irrelevant to us as we know nothing of it. 76. Can Christians explain the difference between Mind, Spirit, Soul, and Ghost (Holy or not)? If not, they have no authority to claim they speak for God. 77. The “Holy Land” has been a place of murder and mayhem for thousands of years,and yet we are expected to believe that it is the land of God and his chosen people; chosen for what/--to suffer and die continuously. 78. “Special leading” to try and establish God. eg God is eternal, but not the Universe. God is “timeless”, but can still do mighty works like creating a Universe, which require time. 79. God is timeless and changeless, yet seems unrestricted by both, as he can change and move about in space-time. 80. Christians routinely re-define words so as to accommodate God,--eg a God who permits evil cannot be benevolent-, the Christian solution is to re-define “evil” (so that Good
can come out of it),-and re-define “benevolent”, so that whatever God may choose to do he is being “benevolent” by definition. All examples of Equivocation. ---------------------------------------
Bibliography and acknowledgements Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” All his books on Evolution and Genetics. Christopher Hitchens “The Missionary Position” “God is not great: how religion poisons everything”. Sam Harris “Letter to a Christian Nation” “The End of Faith”
Daniel Dennett “Darwins’ Dangerous Idea” “Consciousness Explained” “Breaking the spell: Religion as a natural phenomenon” Charles Darwin”On the Origin of Species” “The Descent of Man” Richard Leakey “Human Origins in South Africa” Friedrich Nietzsche All his books,
Alistair McGrath “The Twilight of Atheism” (See page 272) John Hick (edited by) “The Myth of God Incarnate” Werner Keller “The Bible as History” Voltaire “Candide” Thomas Paine “The Age of Reason” Ancient Babylonian novel: “The Epic of Gilgamesh” Sumerian Creation myth: “Enuma Elish”. Sir Wallis Budge “The Mummy” Simon Blackburn “Truth” David Hume “Enquiry concerning Human Understanding” William Shirer “The Rise and fall of the Third Reich”
Francis Wheen “How Mumbo-Jumbo conquered the World” Stephen Hawking .All his books on Cosmology eg “A Brief History of Time” “Black Holes and Baby Universes” Stephen J Gould All his books on Evolution Roger Penrose “Shadows of the Mind” “The Emperor’s new Mind” “Road to Reality” Paul Davies “The First Three Minutes” “The Goldilocks Enigma” Steven Weinberg “In search of a Final Theory” Peter Atkins “The Periodic Table” Martin Rees “Just Six Numbers” Some relevant bits of Plato, Aristotle, The preSocratics, Democritus ,Empedocles, Leucippus, Epicurus, Lucretius, Epitectus, Marcus Musonius Rufus, Marcus Aurelius (Meditations), Marcus Tullius Cicero, Lucius
Annaeus Seneca, St Augustine, Justin Martyr, Flavius Josephus, Julius Caesar (De Bello Gallico), Oration of Pericles, “Contra Celsum” (Origen) . Julian the Apostate, Pliny the Younger (correspondence with the Emperor Trajan about how to deal with Christians and their “detestable superstition”. Edward Gibbon, “Decline and fall of the Roman Empire”, Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian, Greek, Roman Egyptian, Hittite, Indian, Chinese history. Venerable Bede “Ecclesiastical history of the English speaking peoples” Roy Jackson “The God of Philosophy” Michael Baigent “The Jesus Papers”. Magazines: “New Scientist”, “The Freethinker” (National Secular Society”, “New Humanist” (British Humanist Association”. International Humanist and Ethical Union” . The Bible (KJV)
Quran—some Suras, and Hadiths Graham Phillips, The Marian Conspiracy (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000) Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex (Picador, 1976) John Shelby Spong, Liberating the Gospels (Harper, 1996) John Shelby Spong, Born of a Woman (Harper, 1992) Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version (Penguin, 1991) Leslie Houlden (Ed.), Judaism & Christianity (Routledge, 1988) W.H.C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity (Darton Longman Todd, 1984) Riane Eisle, The Chalice & the Blade (Harper Collins, 1987)
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