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Challenging “Creation Science” : The Ark

For those of you who don’t know my story of how I became an outspoken Atheist, it pretty much began after I watched the Ham vs Nye debate. I started on Twitter trying to reason with Young Earth Creationists but my attempts fell pretty flat. Young Earth Creationism is a sham and there are few things that demonstrate that better than their attempts to make the story of Noah’s Ark seem plausible.

Traditionally of course their tactic is trying to reduce the numbers and sizes of animals that went aboard the Ark, which of course results in a Super-Evolution within the 4400 ever since the Great Flood Young Earthers claim. This Super-Evolution mind you happened of course without any beneficial mutations.

The reason they try to reduce the numbers of animals is because even they know, that the Ark couldn’t possibly have carried millions of animals. Instead they opt for “kinds” from which all of today’s species descended. According to this article from Answers in Genesis “Conservative estimates” (LOL) indicate that there were about 16.000 kinds on the Ark.

These estimates are anything but conservative. Despite what John Woodmorappe claims, marine life most definitely had to be on the Ark. Why? For the Bible tells us so.

Genesis 7: 4:

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

Every living substance he has made will be destroyed. This should include the fish and most definitely should include whales. This leads us to assume, that Noah made special aquariums for them. This in principle, isn’t a problem since glass exists since at least about 5500 years but I have a hard time imagining he could’ve built tanks big enough for whales.

Of course with more animals aboard the Ark, we have a corresponding need for more food. In the Zoo of Frankfurt (in Germany) they take care of about 4500 individuals. They feed them over 65 tons of Apples, 36 tons of Carrots, 16 tons of fish and 20 tons of meat, which means 137 tons in total. You can access the original source here though it is unfortunately written in German.

Not only does this raise some serious questions of how Noah got all this food for at least 16.000 animals, it also raises the question how the boat could float.

There are 2 escape hatchets Creationists have: Hibernation and baby animals aboard the Ark.

As far as hibernation is concerned it’s mentioned nowhere in the Bible so positing it would be adding to scripture. Aside from that animals don’t typically hibernate for one full year. It’s not difficult to figure out what would happen to an animal after one year without food: It would die. At least that’s the case if you don’t invoke a Supernatural hibernation, which Woodmorappe posits as a possibility. That’s of course an unfalsifiable Hypothesis but if you posit that, then you likewise throw the attempt of explaining the Flood scientifically out the window, since science relies on methodological naturalism.

This is not to say, that God couldn’t have done, this is to say that the attempt to prove this story scientifically has failed.

As far as taking baby animals goes, the Creationists want to have their cake and eat it too. On one hand they posit a Flood, that still has effects to this day in form Earthquakes etc. and that has split the Supercontinent Pangea apart (yes at least some of them accept Pangea) and that is responsible for pretty much everything within geology, yet want us to believe, that the animals were safe and sound on the boat.

There’s a reason why shaking a baby is considered child abuse. It can cause serious trauma and serious brain injuries and in extreme cases even death. Yet these little baby animals had to endure that every day. Aside from that there are also animals which rely on their mother during infancy. Baby mammals need to be nurtured after all, so the mother had to be on board which is of course unbiblical.

As I hope to have shown, there are serious problems with the scientific case for Noah’s ark as interpreted by Young Earth Creationists. As far as I’m concerned the only way to reconcile it is by either A) Adding to the Bible or B) invoking God, both of which have serious consequences theologically as well as scientifically.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

 

Of Rights and Privileges

I think to an extent it is true, that we as humans tend to have a little bit of a victim complex. I observe it, when yet another Theist wishes hell upon me and I also observe it, when some Christians complain that we took the Bible and prayer out of school. I think in many instances we fail to see the difference between what our rights are and what privileges we might enjoy, that we’ve merely grown accostumed to.

Let’s take for instance the case of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of “American Atheists” :

She was known as “the most hated woman in America” because she accomplished one thing, namely that Bible reading in class as well as prayer led by the teacher during class was prohibited.

Many Christians of course aren’t particularly fond of her but she did in no way take away any rights from Christians. What she took away was privilege, the privilege that Christianity be taught in school. I’m sorry to tell you this but in a secular pluralistic society, you don’t get to enjoy this privilege.

That of course doesn’t mean, that children aren’t allowed to pray. They are allowed to pray and they are allowed to read the Bible, they just have to do so during lunch time or recess or whatever.

I think separation of church and state is a good thing and I don’t hold that view because I’m anti-Christian I hold it because it’s fair. After all if the Muslims or the nonbelievers became a majority in America, then they could push for the Qu’ran or “god is not great” by Christopher Hitchens to be read in school.

I hardly think, that anybody but the favored group would be content with that. As a matter of fact I wouldn’t be content with that, because I don’t want Atheism to be taught. I’m pro skepticism and pro critical thinking and teaching children, that God doesn’t exist is dogmatism and counterproductive to the extreme.

The simple fact of the matter is, that anyone can practice his religious views however he seems fit. However your rights to practice your religious views (or your views in general, but since religion is more or less what my blog is about…) ends when it conflicts with my rights.

That’s the reason, why there is such a thing as “Draw Mohammad Day” . Nobody was thinking about drawing Mohammad before we were told, that we can’t. We cannot allow opposing views to be imposed on us. Not being allowed to draw Muhammad is a rule, that Muslims have to follow. Christians, Hindus and Atheists don’t have to adhere to it and we won’t be forced to.

Marriage being only and exclusively between a man and a woman is true for people who interpret the Bible or the Qu’ran a certain way. It is not true for gay Atheists or gay Christians who view the Bible differently or for anybody else.

There is a difference between rights and privileges. Nobody tries to take anybody’s rights away here. Being able to have your religious views taught in school or prohibiting gay people from getting married (I’m looking at you Kim Davis) is a Privilege and it’s a Privilege that unfortunately many have grown accostumed to and that many would like to regain.

In a Pluralistic society we all walk around as equals. Your views are your own. They can be discussed, they can be shared but they can’t and won’t be imposed. At least not without nonbelievers like me speaking out.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

 

God’s depressing existence

I think many believers as well as unbelievers who actively discuss the topic of God’s existence, try to either infer from the observed Universe what God must be like or try to infer from the proposed definition of God what the Universe should be like.

Very rarely though do most people take a look at God’s attributes and try to infer what kind of a being God is on an emotional level, on an intellectual level etc. .

It is my contention that if God exists, he must be going through a very depressing existence, which would actually go a long way to explain why people die every day in antagonizing deaths, since he’d want to let his frustration out.

Just think about what omniscience entails. When you’re omniscient you know everything. That sounds great at face value but knowing everything means being incapable of learning anything.

I don’t know how you feel but as far as I’m concerned, learning is fun. Discovering new things about the world, experiencing the joy of discovery is an enriching wonderful experience. God however who knows everything and subsequently isn’t capable of learning, has never experienced what it’s like to learn and discover.

This of course presents little bit of a paradox for God but let’s leave that aside for the moment.

Christians also often profess that God knows every thought, that I ever had or ever will have in my entire life.

How then can you have a dynamic dialogue with another person if you’re God. Discussing various topics, seeing various different viewpoints that should be outright impossible for God. He knows what I’m thinking and saying ahead of time and if we disagree, he knows exactly why I’m wrong and why he’s right.

It must be truly depressing to converse with such a being and it’s depressing to be a being, that is incapable of learning.

Moving away from omniscience it should also be true that as an omnipotent being he’s practically invincible. He can’t be touched.

Subsequently he’s incapable of two more things: Having fears and struggling.

Don’t get me wrong having fear and struggling in your life isn’t fun. An essential part, that makes the human experience is relief of fear. I think we all know the feeling, when we’re about to write an important test. We are afraid and that isn’t fun but it’s one hell of a good feeling when we get the test results a few weeks later with the desired result!

We feel an incredible sense of relief. God is incapable of feeling that, because he never had any fear to begin with and of course because he’s incapable of failing. All tests he could ever write would have the same result: A+ without a single mistake.

He can’t be surprised, he can’t be overwhelmed with happiness that he succeeded because he never fails in anything he does!

One last thing that ties in with my previous point is the question of how could God feel any sense of pride?

Think about it: God always existed, uncaused with nothing being capable of making him who he is (since he’s unchanging) with him just being him eternally.

There is nothing that shaped his personality, he never had to work for anything because his desires will be fulfilled simply by him desiring it and he never accomplished anything, because all possible accomplishments amount to nothing compared to who he is.

Him creating a Universe is as much an accomplishment for him as me existing for the next second is an accomplishment for me.

If you never had to work for anything and if you never accomplished anything or at least not anything meaningful, then I can’t tell of what God can be proud of concerning his existence.

If he exists, I truly feel sorry for him.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

 

Hatred, ignorance, awards and civility

Yesterday on Twitter I came across a really interesting Tweet by a person who has rather strong feelings about Atheists. I quote him verbatim: ” I hate Atheists. If Trump made atheism illegal you would be forced to believe in God or go to hell”

Aside from the fact, that his Tweet makes no sense whatsoever it’s certainly interesting why some people have a distaste for Atheists. I personally don’t experience a lot of Backlash from Theists in my real life outside of Twitter but I did feel some animosity from Theists in my online life.

So why is it, that some Theists just don’t like us? First and foremost I think the reason is, because they don’t know how many Atheists actually surround them. I think it can be argued, that many people who identify as nonreligious are really nonbelievers who just don’t like the term “Atheist” . Why do they not like it? Because there was and still is a certain stigma to the term “Atheist” . Some people think we’re immoral. Some people think we worship Satan. It’s easier for those people to keep quiet about it, especially if they really don’t care about theology and Philosophy of religion.

So whether you realize it or not your neighbor may be an Atheist. Your doctor could be an Atheist. Your best friend who’s gay, your coworker with whom you eat lunch everyday may be Atheists.

Many Atheists (as well as Theists or deists) don’t talk about this stuff, because they don’t care all that much.

The only Atheists he has seen were probably Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens etc. who are of course loud and proud militant Atheists. If you are deeply religious, then you probably don’t like them so to a degree I can understand his view. He’s unaware of all the others who he might not realize are Atheists and so his first encounters were with the outspoken ones who hold strong views with which he doesn’t agree. Add to that the old clishees and that’s his conclusion.

Still with statements like these where he tells the world that he hates an entire demographic of people simply for not believing in God he fuels the fire and spreads hate against us.

What he probably doesn’t realize, is that people like him are one of the reasons we speak out. It is among other reasons hatred based on religious views, towards Atheists but also towards other minorities, that we speak out.

It’s a vicious circle in a sense: We speak out against religion against religious discrimination and bigotry and as a result some people will hate us even more.

But I think we can and should stop this bigotry but I think we’re not entirely innocent:

My first reaction was pure outrage and in my anger I posted this:

” And the award for dumbest Tweet of the day goes to…  (name of Twitter user) Congratulations buddy you earned it! ”

In retrospective though I think that might have been a mistake on my part. I won’t delete the Tweet, because I won’t hide my missteps but I think in general I think I could and should have been more friendly to set a better example.

There is a fine line between righteous mockery and hateful mockery and I think in this instance I might’ve crossed that line.Because Theists (most of them) aren’t stupid. There are unintelligent Theists of course, as there are unintelligent Atheists. We’re not all smarter and better than them, we’re just correct (from my point of view). Beliefs deserve to be mocked and bigotry should be called out but we cannot allow ourselves to be carried away.

When you’re correct, you have no need for insults. We can win the argument in a civilized friendly manner. We should try to keep our cool. Sure it can always happen that we can get carried away after all we’re only human.

What I’m saying and suggesting is, that we are conscious of it and that we always try to attack to attack the idea and not the person and that we argue with our brains not our hearts as often as we can, even though mistakes will be made.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

My take on abortion

This topic seems to come up a little bit more often as of late and since it is such an important philosophical topic, that is also highly informed by our religious outlook I think it’s worth discussing when abortion is permissable and when it isn’t.

I of course don’t operate with the goal in mind to settle this highly controversial issue but maybe I can give you something to think about. This article is merely how I see it.

There are within this discussion various different positions. Some people hold to the view, that life begins at conception.

As far as I’m concerned this view is untenable. The first reason of course, is that conception is a process itself. Conception takes place over ~24 hours, so we can’t really pinpoint at what moment in this process we now officially have a human being.

One might of course say that it is true, that we don’t know when we have a human being during the process but after conception, then we know and then we can draw the line. Unfortunately this won’t work neither, since twinning has yet to occur. Does then this life split into 2 half lives? Since most people who hold to that view tend to be very religious, this could have serious implications for the soul.

Additionally in this pro choice vs. pro life debate it is important to define terms:

We should not only speak of humans and killing which can be easily defined, a human is biologically classified and killing is simply the termination of life, we should also define what we mean by “person” and “murder” and that is where the two parties drift apart.

The definition I would use for “person” is a sentient human being i.e. a human that has a perception an experience of being alive. “Murder” as far as I’m concerned is the unjustified killing of a sentient human being without their consent. Such Justifications include self defense, defense of the life or lives of others, preservation of ones own bodily autonomy etc. .

The last justification is of major importance in the discussion, since a woman has a right to her own autonomy and the baby uses her body to stay alive.

So it’s difficult to say at what point during pregnancy we assign the human/person inside of her more value than we do the mother.

At this point we need to address when a person begins. If we accept my definition of person, then I think science can offer some assistance at least. The perception and experience of being alive is determined by the brain. So we need to take a look at brain development during pregnancy. We won’t be able to draw a clear cut line but science can inform us here.

As this site indicates the development of the brain starts at 6 weeks into pregnancy. That of course doesn’t mean that consciousness starts at 6 weeks and therefore a person starts at 6 weeks. We’re far from finished in our investigation where consciousness resides but from what I’ve found out it resides in the prefontal cortex .

Again as the previous site indicates the prefontal cortex starts to develope in 19 weeks into pregnancy within the second trimester and I think that’s where a grey zone starts to begin which as I hold ends in week 27 the last week of the second trimester. In this greyzone one needs to seriously consider both sides of the issue, both the mother and the developing person, especially since the risk of death through the abortion process only increases. Such a decision depends on the case and needs to be well thought out by all parties involved.

After that stage the brain is pretty developed and it would need to be a serious emergency ahead to justify an abortion at that point within the third trimester.

Luckily for us though most abortions happen within the first trimester. Still there is a lot of nuance involved and it all depends on the situation. I still hope I gave you some insight and some food for thought and if you disagree with me (as many undoubtedly will) I hope I didn’t upset you too much.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation