Saturday, December 27, 2008

Proof of God’s Non-Existence? Let a Jury Decide

While the burden of proof for a god’s existence is on believers, I’ve often thought about what would constitute proof that no supreme being/s exist?

In a court of law, when hard evidence is not available (i.e. deposable eyewitnesses, fingerprints, forensics, DNA, et al) lawyers depend on circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is acceptable and often compelling. The prevailing accepted criteria to convince a jury in a civil case is by a “preponderance of evidence”, circumstantial or otherwise.

I propose that there is a preponderance of circumstantial evidence to show God/s does/do not exist.

1. Dispelled Supernatural Explanations- the Diminished God:

The scientific age is in its infancy. It is said that more discoveries have been made in the past 300 years than have taken place in the past 5,000 years. The infallibility of the Catholic Church has been all but dispelled as they capitulate to Copernicus’ model, and placidly accept Darwinian Theory. What for millennia the faithful attributed to the supernatural such as the “wrath of God” (i.e. earthquakes, lighting strikes; draught; extreme weather, plague); the “work of Satan” (i.e. deformed births, two headed sheep, plague); “demonic possession/ witches" (i.e. epilepsy, hysteria, catatonic states) have been shown by man’s scientific awakening to be natural, explainable, even reproducible/ repeatable events, & processes.

Similarly, radiologic dating, consistency of fossil species evidence within geologic strata, and other measurements both terrestrial and cosmologic which meet stringent scientific criteria , provide overwhelming evidence of Old Earth and Evolution; rendering Creationism and Young Earth fables just that...unsupportable fables with no scientific basis.

Thus, while the gaps in our knowledge still exist, they are steadily shrinking. Along with the shrinking gaps the “God of the Gaps” has diminished and continues to do so exponentially. I submit, therefore that each and every theist, clergy or layman, living or dead, who has ever acquiesced to the reality of a dispelled pre-scientific, biblically endorsed, theistically held belief (i.e. earth as center of the universe; a firmament; plague as punishment, etc.), is himself a witness to / proof that what theists once attributed to God’s Word or power is fallacy, and that this God’s credibility has diminished commensurate with those discoveries.

If a god was all powerful, all knowing and existing, his prior attributes & credibility could not be diminished by Man’s discovery. QED, God does not exist.

2. No Probable Cause for Belief:

The Bible is the sole document for belief in /support of the God of Abraham and supernatural Jesus. In 3,500 + years since the Old Testament, and 1,800+ years since the New Testament, no new evidence has ever been produced proving supernatural events described therein actually occurred. No corroborating eyewitness statements by disinterested parties, no archeological evidence, no scientific proofs or discoveries that substantiate the source documents.

For almost two millennia there have been numerous documented predictions by theists of the “end of times” / “second coming”. None of these predictions have come true.

Similarly, no new "miracles" have been forthcoming that could not be explained in natural terms. The "age of miracles" it seems has dissappeared with the advent of the scientific age.

If a supreme being existed who genuinely cared about its creations believing in him, common logic infers he would reveal his existence in undeniable and proof positive terms. He would do so without the need for fallible human interpretation, or suppression / suspension of the human ability to reason and logic (which presumably this god bestowed upon them), or dependence on man made excuses for the absence of this God's personal appearance.

In short: The evidence for the supernatural or God should be held to no higher or lower standard than the evidence for any other unseeable mythical being , i.e. werewolf, vampire, fairy, et al. I submit that in the absence of said evidence there is no probable cause to believe in a God/s existence.

Virtually all theists have on their side is "hearsay", which is the least valued of all evidence. So what can we deduce? This: if pure logic and a preponderance of evidence were the sole basis for a ruling, these two arguments alone could stand as overwhelming evidence for proof for no god.

Of course, my premise is based on "a court of law" scenario, where the judge / jury are impartial, and bound by the rule of law to decide by a "preponderance of evidence" irrespective of their personal opinion of the participants, or their own belief system. Unfortunately, given the lack of intellect of jurors, and their inability to overcome their own mental enslavement to religion, I doubt an impartial jury could be found. Certainly not in LA, or among justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, or Thomas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let's Honor the True Meaning of the Season

On December 25th, 4 CE a child was said to have been born to a Jewish virgin as she and her husband traveled to the place of his birth to be counted in the Roman census. A bright star shone over the birthplace so that the faithful will know. And so began the Good News of the birthday of the Messiah, the Son of Man, God’s Only Son.

Of course, there was no written record of any such census; nor did a Roman census ever require an entire population to relocate from their place of residence; nor was any special star evident; nor do pregnant virgins exist … then nor now. In fact, there are zero corroborating eyewitness accounts of any such star, census, or personage of Jesus ever existing.

We do know that the Romans held a festival on December 25, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun." It marks the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, when the shortest day of the year which occurs between the 20th and 23rd each year, now reverses signaling the lengthening of days. To many pagan cultures the Sun WAS god and life giver. Indeed, if anything could justify worship it would be the life giving sustenance of the Sun. The Christian cult just co-opted the pagan observance, substituting the rites of “rebirth of the Sun” with the “birth of The Son” … as they co-opted so many other myths and practices for their hybrid Pagan/Abrahamic dogma.

But none of that is important. What is important is that this man-god worshipping death cult which marks its make believe inception on December 25th has persevered for almost 2000 years, and with it came almost as many years of deception, misery, intolerance, hatred, persecution, torture, subjugation, intimidation, ignorance and murder by its devoted followers in the name of their god.

So as you open presents under the pagan tree, huddle around the burning pagan Yule log, and celebrate the lengthening of the days, take a moment to remember the true meaning and reason for the Season. Offer a toast of happy birthday to sun gods Sol Invictus (pictured above), Ra, Helios, and Apollo. Be sure to thank them for the warming rays of their countenance, and for not having inspired their followers to self righteous persecution in their name.

Merry Winter Solstice

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Oil and Fundamentalist Christianity Don’t Mix.

With all the focus on fossil fuels and the price of gasoline, it lead me to wonder how exactly do “Young Earth” fundie Christians explain the formation of crude oil?

Virtually every accredited scientist / geologist on Earth agrees that crude oil was formed by the decomposition of organic materials, plants and animals, in an airless environment of 60 to 120 degrees C, under enormous pressure, for between 10 and 300 million years.
There are reams of scientific evidence for this process. There is another not widely held hypothesis called abiogenic petroleum origin, which doesn’t require organic materials/ fossils to create oil, but even that is predicated on an Earth that is billions of years old.

So what do the Young Earthers say? The Great Flood did it!! It buried trees and animals under sediment (in 40 days!!). The speed with which this occurred created enormous pressure and heat which created oil. Unfortunately, this simplistic and short cycle oil “creationism” can’t be supported by laboratory testing, scientific principles, or layered fossil evidence, nor can they offer any substantiation that demonstrates its efficacy in any scientifically sound way..

What Young Earthers DO offer is religious babble, because creationist ideas do not have to be scientifically sound or supportable, they only need be sound within the realm of creationist dogma. I.e. “God can make the Earth look like it was 100’s of millions of years old.” Well, that’s that! When someone invokes intentional deception by a supreme being or magic as the answer to anything, it pretty much puts the kibosh on any reasonable discourse with them. They are worshiping a God that needs to test his creations’ faith by making Earth look older than it really is. As Coral Yoshi said, “That’s a God with some serious self esteem issues.”

You won’t find any creationists with geology degrees working for oil companies, but more than one are employed by the Creation Museum, and probably Burger King.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ice Storms, New Hampshire, and “Acts of God”

Saturday Dec. 13. Thirty minutes ago our electricity was restored after the worst ice storm in New Hampshire history knocked out power for ½ the residents of the state. My power was out for almost forty hours. There remain upwards of 300,000 NH families still without it. They say power may not be fully restored for three or four more days in spite of teams of electrical workers coming from as far as Ohio, PA, and Maryland.

It wasn’t so bad for Mrs. Hump, the dogs and I. We have an automatic propane generator that came on at 3 a.m. Friday. I called for a top off Friday morning, received it within an hour, and figured I had a good three days of gas to run my appliances, pump & heat my well water, provide lights and all the creature comforts.

By mid afternoon, surrounding neighbors without generators had been called or visited and invited to come over, take hot showers, fill water jugs and buckets for drinking and flushing, and generally enjoy the warmth of our wood burning stove, hot soup, and ample beer and liquor supply on into the evening Friday. Fortunately everyone around here has an alternate heat source, wood stoves or fireplaces, so no life threatening situations in spite of temperatures dipping into single digits overnight.

The Governor declared a state of emergency. National Guard was used to help clear streets of downed trees and storm debris in the hardest hit areas. Old folks with no alternate heat were evacuated to community shelters or neighbors spare rooms. People’s pipes burst from the cold and flooded their basements. FEMA provided emergency facilities’ with generators and cots; the Red Cross went into action. Thus far there has only been one death attributed to the storm. As disasters go, this one was well handled.

As I reflected on the myriad stories carried by our two local papers and the TV news coverage which preempted all regular TV programming, I realized I never once heard the words “Act of God”; or “Miracle.”; or “By God’s Grace.” uttered by a single reporter, nor any of the scores of storm victims interviewed. Not a single, “Thank you, Jesus!” Not one reference to God’s “merciful divine intervention” nor the angry pronouncement of “ His divine punishment for New Hampshire’s sinful, or stubborn, or … uh… err … maple syrupy ways.”

I realized in some other states (read: Bible Belt), the televangelists, every two bit bible banging clergy and their frenzied faithful, would be wailing in the streets and getting face time on every camera testifying, attributing their lot, lives & narrow escapes to the supernatural; explaining the mystical cause or meaning of the event; declaring its impact on their state as the “LORD’s Will!”, perhaps even a sign of His displeasure.

But nope, not in New Hampshire. Not a single supernatural platitude was to be found.

New Englanders are famously self sufficient and pragmatic. We understand natural occurrences, climatic changes. We are an educated people and don’t tolerate fools lightly. We include the overtly religious under that classification.

It helps keep their numbers to a relative minimum, and the few there are largely muted. It's not unlike how the cold climate helps keep us free of termites. I love New Hampshire.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hump declares his god.

"Well, if you don’t believe in God, you must think YOU'RE GOD." "If you don't worship God, what DO you worship?"

Likely if you’ve ever been in more than a passing conversation with a fundie you’ve been on the receiving end of those statements.

The problem this exposes is they cannot conceive of someone NOT having belief in the supernatural; can't fathom anyone NOT being dependent on some "greater power"; are incapable of believing people can lead perfectly happy and normal lives WITHOUT being a slave to the religious meme, and kowtowing to some ancient mythical superstition.

So in the future, instead of trying to explain how rejection of the god concept from Zeus to Isis to Jesus, et al requires no substitute, I’m going to declare a "god": My “gods” are Reason, Reality, Logic, and the Never Ending Quest for Knowledge through Discovery. It is manifested in the “Trinity” of Rationalism, Empiricism, and Naturalism. Its “church/temple/mosque/synagogue” resides within our minds.

I “worship” Critical Thinking; the Scientific Method; Supportable Evidence; Man's Drive, Desire and Ability to Learn; his desire to break free from the darkness of superstition and the blind belief born of nomadic sand people, or 2nd Century cultists, or Hellenistic seers, or aboriginal shaman.

My “gods” demand no tithing, no praying, no kneeling, no sacrifice, no vestments, no sacred garments. No symbolic consumption of human flesh or blood is necessary. It threatens no eternal damnation, nor dangles a promise of eternal reward. It doesn't demand blind belief with no evidence of the nonexistent nor the lockstep acceptance of any of its premises.

My “ gods' ” only dogma is continued expansion of knowledge; revising understanding as new discoveries warrant; reading; exchange of ideas grounded in reality; weighing hard evidence and making informed decisions unencumbered by any agenda other than recognizing how much there is we've learned, and how much more we can learn if not a slave to ancient fears and ignorance.

My “gods” have only two commandments:
1. “Ask questions & seek answers grounded in reality.”
2. "Go read a freekin science, history, or philosophy book. Education is a sacrament."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What would it take for you to believe in….

Alien abductions? Bigfoot? UFOs as genuine alien space craft? Ghosts? Witches? ESP? Fortune tellers? Demons?

For me (and I’d like to believe for a majority of people) it would take irrefutable proof, a preponderance of scientifically supported and testable evidence. And yet many people actually accept these things as real based on hearsay, “want-it-to-be-so”, or the flimsiest of evidence.

For these people it’s unimportant that haunted houses, fortune telling, or ESP have never passed a single controlled experiment. To the confirmed believer it’s enough to just “want to believe”, lack of genuine evidence doesn’t matter.

Imagine a child who was born to parents who were avid UFO believers; who accompanied their folks to UFO conventions from an early age; who read their parents’ UFO books and magazines of which there are thousands; who year after year overhear their parents and their parents’ friends talking about the latest sightings and the governments efforts to cover it up. What are the odds that such a child would become a dyed in the wool UFO devotee, and consider anyone who didn’t believe in UFOs deniers of “Truth”, or “deceived fools”? I’d guess damn near 100%.

Now, substitute for UFO believer parents, parent believers in God / Jesus and all the superstitious baggage that comes with it and you’d have the exact same impact on the impressionable child. The conditions that breed one irrational, unscientific, unproven, untestable belief are the same for all of them.

And just as any committed UFO freak will dismiss other popular mythical delusions as crazy and absurd, theists do the same thing by dismissing all other religions/gods as delusions or false beliefs. Coincidence? Hardly.

Even as they read this the connection will be dismissed by theists as unrelated to THEIR particular belief. Their minds can’t allow them to even acknowledge it. A blind spot in their minds.

Ok, gotta run. I have a Yeti symposium to attend. Now, those guys are the real thing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Satiating God's Blood Lust...Again.

Ah… how those theists love to appease their God with blood letting. What’s the latest count from India, where Muslims, were killing Hindus, and Jews, and Christians with delightful abandon? 175? More?

To those who would try to down play the religious factor, and call the cause “political”, please…spare us. Muslims comprised 100% of the perpetrators. And given that eight or nine Jews were executed among a Jewish population of something in the order of approximately 0.00001% of the Indian population pretty much eliminates their deaths as chance.

Was the hate for the infidel, and resultant enthusiastic murderous acts of those Muslim terrorists fed by Allah’s or Mohammed’s (camel turds be upon him) promise of a paradise replete with the reward of eternal virgins? Count on it.

Among the families of the deceased Jews, is their loss made more bearable by the martyrdom of their loved ones? Perhaps.

Does the belief that the Christian victims now reside with Jesus salve the pain and anguish of the senselessness of their loved ones deaths? Surely.

Is the suffering of the surviving families of the Hindu victims relieved by knowing that their dead will be reincarnated perhaps as a cow? Probably.

Did the believing victims pray for mercy and continued life in their last moments of terror? No doubt. Did it calm their horror? You tell me. We know for certain, it didn’t save their lives.

Now, imagine there were no delusions of supernaturalism, no promise of paradise, nor any life after death. Imagine no adamant claims of “the only TRUE way” fanning hatred and intolerance of beliefs that are equally moronic to ones own. Imagine if all people were free of the religious meme slave mentality. Imagine no need for platitudes, justifications and myths. Imagine those 175 people still alive. Imagine no religion.