Friday, December 19, 2014

Brain vs God

I've seem it a thousand times, and it just keeps showing up over and over. I'm sure we're all familiar with the whole story of the atheist teacher who gets showed up by his Christian student. For a refresher, it goes a little like this...

Teacher: Can you see God?
Class: No.
Teacher: Can you touch God?
Class: No.
Teacher: Then there isn`t a God!
Student: Sir, can you see your brain?
Teacher: No.
Student: Can you touch your brain?
Teacher: No.
Student: Oh ok so you have no brain?

It's amazing how many times I've seen Christians celebrate this little fabrication as 'so true', and claimed that 'he sure set him straight'. The simple truth is that this story is so pitiful that I can't believe any believer would latch onto it favorably. To see why, let's answer the student's questions...

Can you see your brain or touch it? Yes. We can cut open people's heads or drill a hole and see they have a brain. When the brain is exposed, it can also be touched. The brain can also be seen or have it's activity measured by way of EEG, CAT scan, PET scan, MRI, fMRI, and MEG scan. Science has also uncovered that a brain is necessary for a person to be functional and alive, so the teacher speaking to the class is evidence that he has a brain.

That's where this stories false-equivalency fails. We have evidence that brains exist and that we all have one. If any of us doubt that, a simple scan can put those doubts to rest. However, there is no proof that God exists. The brain example gives us a testable claim that can be verified, however the God claim does not. All it offers is a claim and nothing more. And a claim that fails even the most basic of scientific scrutiny no less.

And just to also point out a further problem with the story... Despite what some versions say, the child wasn't Einstein.


-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Working Christmas

I was listening to the radio and the guys on the broadcast where talking about Christmas. But I was a bit disappointed when one said, "Here's what I don't get. If you're an atheist or agnostic... You tell people they can't even say Christmas. If you don't like it so much, why don't you tell your boss 'no, I don't want the day off, I want to work'?"

There are so many things about that statement that make me shake my head. First off, I am tired of the insinuation that atheists are all trying to scrub the word 'Christmas' from history and people's lips. Maybe there are some but I, like many, am perfectly fine with people saying 'Christmas'. Hell, I say it and wish people I know are Christians a 'Happy Christmas'.

The biggest problem I've heard was the times atheists fought the use of religious Christmas in public schools (church/state violation) or when the overly conservative fly off the handle just because someone uses a more inclusive 'Happy Holidays' or 'Season's Greetings'. In these examples, it's the Christians being overly sensitive and fussing over nothing.

Then there's the assumption that atheists don't like or celebrate Christmas. The truth is that a great many of us do celebrate Christmas. We just don't celebrate the Christian Christmas. Maybe for us it's about family, the Winter Solstice, or a nod to all the Pagan traditions and celebrations that Christmas is actually derived from.

So no, there is no mystery as to why non-believers don't demand to work on Christmas. In fact the real mystery is how some Christians don't realize that there's a difference between censorship and upholding the law. And that the Christian version of Christmas is far from the only one.


-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Parents without pregnancy

We find ourselves once more on the topic of parenthood. My wife and I have been married for almost five years now and are still child-free. This topic came up at a recent dinner gathering. A woman that none of us are fond of decided to start peppering my wife with questions at one point during the night's proceedings.

'Are you going to have kids?' 'Do you have plans for kids?' 'Is it his idea to not have kids yet or yours?' I came into the room at the end of the conversation and this woman had come to the apparent conclusion that I just didn't want kids and was forcing that view onto my wife. It didn't bother me much, as I am used to this person having insane opinions. So we just stuck to our usual reply that we are okay with not having kids now, and will think about it in the future.

She still didn't let it go and continued on about how women can't wait as long as men. That the longer you wait the tougher it is for the woman. We simply stated that we're not talking about waiting a decade to reconsider, just a couple years or so. And so we just left it at that.

It wasn't until the next day that I heard the first half of the conversation, and that's the part that really pissed me off. Apparently she started the conversation with my wife by accusing me of not giving her kids. Because, as she said to my wife, 'women always want kids', 'it's a woman's purpose to have kids', 'if you are a woman and don't want a child, there's something wrong with you'. All incredibly judgmental and ridiculous statements that made my wife feel bad because she doesn't want to have a kid right now either. We are both happy being married and having only our cats to take care of.

Here we have a woman that is actually reducing the female persuasion to no more than baby factories with no other real purpose. Sorry, but in my opinion it's the person with that view that has something wrong with them. There's nothing broken about my wife just because she isn't in a rush to get pregnant.

Then there's the common claim that you're just being selfish if you don't give birth to a child. In my estimation that's absolute bollocks! Because here we have a woman who has also stated that they couldn't love a child that wasn't blood the same as one she gave birth too. That an adopted child wouldn't really be her child. To me, this strange fixation of blood trumping all is the real illustration of being selfish.

My wife and I have already discussed this, and when we decide the time is right for children, we plan to adopt. Rather than add to an already over-populated Earth, we will make the selfless choice to love a child as if it were our own genetic offspring. There are currently about 400,000 children in the US foster care system (120,000 are orphans). Somewhere around 100,000 children enter the system
annually, while 20,000 reach the age of 18 having never been adopted (many become homeless or incarcerated due to this). Sadly, only about 7,000 children are adopted each year (many from overseas) so the foster care population only continues to grow.

So if and when we decide to become parents, we will give a child that does not have the love or stability that every child should have a home. Rather than focusing on genetics, we will focus on loving that child and bringing them up as if they had always been ours. I wish that more people today took that path, instead of mainly those that can't conceive. So far as we know, my wife and I have no such roadblock, but feel that adopting instead of conceiving would be the responsible thing to do.

So to the woman who thinks she can do no wrong... We will not heed your advice, and shall ignore your ugly opinions. For when the time comes, we will make the special and loving choice you never could.


-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hostile co-worker?

Religion in the workplace? How people will react can vary greatly. Sometimes things are fine, and sometimes people greatly exaggerate differences.
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Why are some people so hostile toward religion? One of my co-workers claims to be an atheist, and if anyone says anything about God, their church or anything like that, he gets very belligerent. Why is this? — P.T.
Why are some people hostile toward religion? Usually people are actually being hostile to the hurt, damage, or hate that religion can cause. Or they are hostile to the religious trying to illegally force their religion into the government. These are things that believers and non-believers alike should stand against. Yet for some reason, atheists pointing out very real concerns is considered hostile. No one is trying to take away people's right to worship... we're only hoping to help right wrongs and for people to open their eyes to aspects that they may be unaware of in hopes of improvement and change.

And what's with the phrasing of 'claims to be an atheist'? I've seen this many times in the past. It's as if the believer thinks we are lying about not believing in God. But it just doesn't make sense. If we secretly did believe, we would know that acting as if we didn't would send us straight to hell. Purposely acting in a way that we supposedly actually believe will send us to a land of eternal torment would be no less than idiotic! How would PT like it if I were to say that he 'claims to be a Christian'?

Belligerent you say? Any time anyone says anything to him about God or their church? What is the context here, because it can be very important. If many people keep talking to him about their religion/church then it almost sounds like he's the victim of endless proselytizing. Perhaps everyone at work knows he doesn't believe, so day after day the same people keep trying to convert him. It could very well be that he has had enough of the constant pestering and can't take it anymore.

Or it could be something completely different. Sometimes, believers can be very very touchy. I once had a local Baptist church member knock on my door and ask me a question about Heaven. When I responded that I didn't believe there is such a place, she responded as if I was being extremely rude and unreasonable. I've spoken to atheists who have been yelled at and told by Christians that they aren't allowed to even say 'Christmas' if they aren't a Christian. I've had a Christian call me mocking and disrespectful just because I corrected some of the errors they were repeating. Sometimes believers can consider just disagreeing with them as being 'belligerent'.

It could be that PT's co-worker was in fact rude. But without actually being given an example, we have no way of knowing if they actually where.
DEAR P.T.: Most people don’t like to be told they’re wrong (even if they actually are), and this may be one explanation for your co-worker’s hostility.
So that's the explanation for the hostility many believers show in debates. They don't like being told they're wrong (even if they actually are).
This is particularly true if down inside he has doubts about his supposed atheism (even if he vehemently denies that he does).
Ah, so all those believers secretly have doubts about their 'supposed Christianity'. That's good to know...
But in some ways his belligerence isn’t really logical, is it? After all, if he truly believes God doesn’t exist, then why should he get upset if people say God does exist? Why doesn’t he simply laugh at them or ignore them?
Just like it doesn't make sense when some believers get angry when I say that I don't believe? That's just as illogical.

I must say that I don't know of any atheists that get angry simply due to the mention of God, or because someone else is a believer. If someone is a Christian, I don't really care. That's their business. When Christians mention God to me, talk about their faith, prayer, or just use religious overtones do you know what I typically do? I just ignore it.

The point that many Christians miss is that atheists are are not concerned with people's personal belief, or them talking about God. What we are concerned about is these ideas being taught in public schools or belief being legislated.
Sometimes people who strongly oppose Christ are simply reacting against their parents’ faith.
People still peddle this myth? I can't say that I've ever met an atheist who is an atheist due to their parent's faith. In fact, when it comes to extremely religious parents I've found the two most common results to be either very religious children, or children that are members of one of the more liberal sects of Christianity, or even non-denominational Christians to contrast their ultra conservative and literal Christian parents.
Sometimes they don’t want to give up their sinful lifestyle.
Why the absurd assumption that all believers are just sinful? What if I where to suggest that Christians just don't want to be accountable for their actions? After-all, believers can just do whatever they want and just be forgiven.
Some day you might ask this man whether he knows why he reacts so strongly whenever God is mentioned.
I wonder if it would go like when I ask Christians that react so strongly when they hear of someone not being a believer. The typical responses to that are an extra helping of crassness, an angry denial, or an attempt to change the subject or just ignore the question.
Throughout history, those who believe in God often have been persecuted by those who deny him — sometimes very violently.
...until Christianity became the majority religion and became the persecutors. Also, many times believers today confuse not always getting their way as persecution.
Instead of allowing others the freedom to believe in God, they want to suppress them and restrict their rights.
Um... Does Billy not realize that non-believers aren't trying to do anything of the sort. Actually, we would stand against any group trying to take away any group's religious freedom.
Pray for your co-worker, as only God can convict him of his sin and disbelief, and convince him of the truth of the Gospel. Pray, too, that you will be a witness for Christ to those around you, not only by what you say but also by the way you live. Sometimes the most persuasive argument we can give someone is the reality of a Christ-filled life. Do others see Christ’s love and patience and peace in your life?
Or maybe just leave him alone. Because if my guess is correct, PT is the problem and not the co-worker.


-Brain Hulk

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Religious Mad Libs?

Sometimes the explanations apologists give are so poor, that just changing one or two words can flip the meaning and not effect the accuracy at all...

DEAR REV. GRAHAM: Do you think the world will ever be at peace? For some reason, everyone talks about peace on earth at Christmastime, but if anything, the world just seems to be getting worse. What's the problem? --L.R.F.
I'd say that the problem is that LRF is expecting a non-existent deity to magically fix the world.
DEAR L.R.F.: You probably know what happened that first Christmas night: Angels suddenly appeared to a group of humble shepherds, telling them the long-expected Savior of the world had been born in the nearby town of Bethlehem. But they not only announced His birth; they also promised that He would bring peace to our troubled world (see Luke 2:8-14).
Well, that's the unsubstantiated claim of one religion anyway...
Why hasn't this happened? Were the angels wrong?
This should be good...
No, not at all, because whenever we open our hearts and lives to Christ, God gives us peace --peace with God, peace with others, and peace in our hearts. And if everyone on earth truly followed Jesus and lived the way He taught us to live, then we'd know what it means to live in a world of peace.
No, not at all, because whenever we open our hearts and lives to Thor, Odin gives us peace --peace with The All-Father, peace with others, and peace in our hearts. And if everyone on earth truly followed Thor and lived the way He taught us to live, then we'd know what it means to live in a world of peace.
But this hasn't happened because we've turned our backs on God and chosen to go our own way. The fault isn't God's, but ours, because we've run our own lives and left God out of the picture. Instead of love, justice and peace, we allow hate, corruption and violence to rule our hearts. The Bible says, "In all his thoughts there is no room for God" (Psalm 10:4).
But this hasn't happened because we've turned our backs on Odin and chosen to go our own way. The fault isn't Odin's, but ours, because we've run our own lives and left Odin out of the picture. Instead of love, justice and peace, we allow hate, corruption and violence to rule our hearts. The Norse say, "In all their thoughts there is no room for Odin
Lasting peace will never come until Christ returns to establish His kingdom of perfect righteousness and justice. Until then, we are called to pray and work for peace. Above all, however, this Christmas open your heart and life to Christ's peace. His promise is true: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you" (John 14:27).
Lasting peace will never come until Thor returns to establish His kingdom of perfect righteousness and justice. Until then, we are called to pray and work for peace. Above all, however, this Yule open your heart and life to Thor's peace. His promise is true: "I shall destroy the great demon world serpent to save all the realms."

There you have it... 'Unquestionable' proof that the Norse religion is the true one and will one day fully deliver.


-Brain Hulk

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Awesomeness proves God?

Bruce Tallman wrote an opinion piece for www.lfpress.com where he opines that 'awesomeness' keeps him from being an atheist...
Suffering is the rock atheists stand on. If there is a God, why is there so much suffering? Good question. Theologians have been coming up with answers to that for centuries.
Not good answers though. And there's already a problem here. Most atheists are non-believers because of the lack of evidence that there is a God, not because of suffering.
But let’s for once turn the tables and ask atheists a question. If there is no God, why is there so much awesomeness? I have never heard a satisfying answer to the rock on which awe believers stand.
In my experience, believers not finding these answers satisfying has always been due to a refusal to even consider them. But why is there so much awesomeness? Well, that's a complex question with many different answers for the varying aspects of 'awesomeness'. But for everything that is awesome, there is something not awesome... What about that?
The breathtaking beauty of so many things makes it easy to believe: mountains, valleys, waterfalls; the many shades of colour in fall leaves, deserts, or sunsets; strange and beautiful creatures like giraffes, jaguars, kangaroos, peacocks, dolphins and manta rays.
What about the product of plate tectonics, erosion, biology, the scattering of light or evolution make it seem like it must have been a God that created these? These are all things that we've been able to explain with science. The fact that we can also appreciate them doesn't change that.
And then there are the heavens “telling of the glory of God” as Psalm 19 says. God filled the skies full of wonders to invoke worship: the Milky Way, lightning and thunder, rainbows, auroras, comets, waxing and waning of the moon, the glorious sun bringing light and warmth. All this led humans to believe in gods.
So he created the heavens and then got their creation completely wrong in the Bible? Not exactly impressive... Sure people saw things they didn't understand and tried to explain them as best they could. These early peoples didn't have the scientific knowledge we have now, nor the means to run the needed tests. So they believed in gods, for they had invented gods as their explanation for these things. Just the same as we once thought rotting meat made maggots, and latter found that flies laid eggs in the meat that latter hatched. Today we are replacing those false godly explanations with actual ones.
Science has revealed even greater wonders: the universe being all one from the big bang onward, galaxies floating in space, evolution transcending one level after another from atoms to molecules to cells to organisms and then, through natural selection, creating more and more excellent and conscious beings from plants to animals to humans.
Um... All of this discredits portions of the Bible, so how is this supposed to help Bruce's cause? Unless he's talking about a less literal interpretation or a more generic god...
Then there are the polarities and balances of life: being and becoming; night and day, body and spirit, work and play, birth and death, and the four basic elements — water balanced by fire, earth balanced by air. Yin and yang are everywhere.
Really? Day and night are an inevitable product of our planet's rotation. We know we have a body, but what does he mean by 'spirit'? Because if he's talking 'immortal soul'  there's no evidence that they exist. There are so many states of being between work and play... Birth and death... Inevitable. And the 'four basic elements' mention is horribly outdated and a far cry from how many elements there actually are.
There is the sacredness of love and sexuality: the polarities of males and females falling in love, making love, and feeling cosmic oneness in orgasm. And out of their love a new life is created that is a genetic combination of both of them.
What about creatures that don't need the opposite sex to reproduce, or those that don't need to orgasm? Are those creatures not God's work? And congratulations! Bruce found out how reproduction (usually) works!
There is the wonder of human development from fertilized egg to old age. And the further wonder of humans having four brains: brain-stem, pre-frontal brain, left brain, and right brain.
Just human development? Because in the early stages we are almost visually identical to other animals in their early stages. As for the different brain regions... Thank evolution, not God.
Plus we are composed of body, emotions, mind, and also spirit, as evidenced by the many religions we have created. Even some atheists admit needing spirituality. There is thus a never-ending longing for a transcendent dimension, which God created in us — a deep desire for God.
Again, what does he mean by 'spirit'? As for atheists being 'spiritual'... 'Spiritual' is one of those words that means something different to everyone you ask, so it's mention here is pretty much meaningless since I've heard it used without any religious connotations. And if there really is a engrained deep desire for God, why don't we all believe in a god or the same god?
And there are physical laws such as gravity, causing water to flow down to oceans, which evaporate and form clouds that water the earth causing plants to grow and humans to survive. There are also spiritual laws such as karma — as you give you receive — and the golden rule, found in all major religions. All these laws, physical and spiritual, point to a lawmaker.
You mean the laws of nature? The laws that we evolved under... They weren't set to us, we are set by them. As for gravity and water... It depends on the gravity and other conditions. There are worlds where water can not exist as a liquid, yet there are seas of liquid methane instead! The laws don't do us any good there, now do they. As for karma... Anyone paying any attention should notice that it doesn't actually exist, or at the very least is wildly inconsistent. Oh, and the golden rule can be found in many religions because it predates religion! So no, none of this points to a lawmaker.
To those who say 'God doesn't do ugly'... What about this?
Then there are all the arts, which also testify to our spirit. A river is a flow of hydrogen-oxygen molecules to science, but it is also the stuff of poetry. It helps to think of God as a great artist, not just a creator. Every painter knows there has to be light and dark. Any playwright will tell you there has to be drama created by conflict and suffering, as well as peace and ecstasy.
Does he not realize that atheists enjoy the arts and are artists as well? And a river is so much more to science than Bruce claims it is. I'm a pretty scientific person, but I can still see the beauty in a river. 
If there were no God, there would be nothing to see. You certainly would not expect things to be this fabulous, far too fabulous to be an accident or the product of mindless physical laws.
Actually, what we see is exactly what we'd expect to see if it were the product of the physical laws that we've come to understand. Yes, there is much that is fabulous, but there is also much that isn't.
Suffering is always due to a corruption of original goodness. Illness is a corruption of original health. Atheists therefore base their argument on something secondary, that is, suffering. But they have not explained the primary thing, the original beauty, goodness, and awesomeness of life.
This is simply incorrect. First, we don't base non-belief on suffering. But there is also much that isn't 'awesome' that is not 'corruption'. There are cute creatures, and there are some very ugly creatures. Maggots eating a dead body are not pleasant, but very necessary. Volcanoes can be both visually 'awesome' but also terribly destructive. One could go on and on. But the point must be reiterated that atheists aren't making their case on something secondary. We are making our case on the fact that there is no proof that a God exists.
The atheist’s explanation “things just happen to be this way” is a non-argument. Why are things this way? To me it takes far less gullibility, given the awesomeness of things, to believe there is a God than to think there is no supreme intelligence behind all this.
Personally I feel one has to be much more gullible to believe the statement 'an all powerful God created everything just for me'. Things are this way due to the laws of nature and march of evolution. To say that 'things just happen to be this way' is a non-argument betrays that the person doesn't understand how the laws of nature form a world. And in all likelihood, they are guilty of the common religious apologist mistake of putting the cart before the horse.
Scientists always search for the most elegant, simplest solution.
Which is why the explanation 'God did it!' fails spectacularly.


-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Limited god

Can God actually do anything? One Christian was pondering that question...
Dear Rev. Graham: Is God limited in any way? Are there some things God can’t do? I sometimes wonder about this, because if God is all-powerful, then why doesn’t He stop all the evil things that go on in the world? -- M.N.
While it would be frustrating that an all-powerful god doesn't do anything about evil, it can be explained. Either God simply doesn't care, or he is a sadist. Though I think another important question is if MN realizes that the claim that God being all powerful contradicts itself.

If God is all-powerful, he should be able to create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it. But if he can't lift it. he's not all-powerful. And if he can't create said rock, he's not all-powerful once more. The very idea of omnipotence is self refuting!
Rev. Graham: God is absolutely holy and pure, and there’s only one thing God can’t do: He can’t do anything that is against His nature. In other words, the one thing God can’t do is sin.
What a load of bollocks!  God lied to Adam and Eve. God killed more people than can be counted. God even sinned when he was Jesus. So God can, and certainly has sinned if we use the Bible as our guide. Also, remember the fact that omnipotence is self refuting? If God can't sin, he ceases to be all-powerful.

And even if he couldn't sin, there's something else he can't do. Defeat chariots of iron! (Judges 1:19)
Why, then, doesn’t God do something about all the evil in the world?
As I've said before, he either doesn't care or is a sadist. But there is another possibility... That there is no God.
I’ve asked myself that question hundreds of times and to be honest, I don’t have a full answer. Some day in heaven, we will understand, but until then, we can only trust in God’s goodness, wisdom and sovereignty, even when the world seems dark and in the grip of evil.
So Billy's answer is blind faith. Let's not be logical. Lets not ask the hard questions. Just trust that God has it under control and will do something about it one day. If I told you I could save you from bankruptcy, and that I even wanted to, I'm sure you'd be happy. Perhaps even overjoyed. But what if I then didn't pay off your debts? Instead I let your debt pile up higher and higher, all the while telling you not to worry, I'll make it all right eventually.

You would be right to question if I can actually do what I claim, or if I can, if I really want to. Yet Billy says you should just trust that Jesus will take care of everything in some vague 'someday'. But following that would be the same as trusting me to pay off all your bills when I've shown no signs of ever doing so. Is saying I will a good enough reason? No! Nor is the Bible saying Jesus will defeat evil a good enough reason to believe that.
It won’t always be this way; some day Satan will be defeated and all evil will be destroyed. How do I know this? I know it because by His death and resurrection Jesus Christ conquered all the powers of sin and death and Hell and Satan.
Too bad for Billy that Jesus has never been shown to actually exist, there is no proof of his crucifixion or resurrection, nor that there is even a Satan to defeat.


-Brain Hulk

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