Monday, August 1, 2016

A Thought Experiment

A thought experiment: Let's imagine that God is somehow regional - say He's the God of the Milky Way galaxy. He is Lord over a hundred billion star systems, trillions of planets, uncounted creatures great and small, but that His domain is limited to our particular galaxy. Let's also suppose that the Andromeda galaxy, our neighbor, also has its own god. What if Andromeda's god went on vacation and needed Yahweh to fill in for him while he's gone. So Yahweh agrees and ventures over to Andromeda and presides over that galaxy for awhile, leaving the Milky Way without a god. And while He was gone, He would not listen to or answer prayers, perform miracles, or rule over Heaven and Earth.

How would we know when God left? Would evil suddenly run rampant? Would normally civilized people start worshiping devils and committing crimes and performing vulgar acts? Would future saints not be able to perform the miracles that would promote them eventually to sainthood? Would the birds stop singing? Would the sun stop rising? Would the sky turn dark and stormy? Would the joy of living suddenly be replaced by universal fear and sorrow? Would parents stop loving their children? Would babies stop being born? What indicators would we humans receive that would tell us that Yahweh had once again returned to our own galaxy after being gone for a time?

If the idea of such a regional god seems strange, you may recall how the one true God of the Bible tended to limit His concern to the offspring of Adam and Eve, then Noah, and then of Abraham; mainly the direct descendants of Abraham's grandson, Jacob (AKA Israel).

I want you to ask yourself a very simple question: What does God do? If you say that He does things that would happen naturally anyway, then there is no reason for God to have to do it, is there? It makes more sense to say that God does all the supernatural things; things and events that require divine intervention or a miracle. But the problem there is, no miracles have ever been confirmed as being only possible through supernatural means. Prayers have never been answered conclusively and exclusively by a deity, that couldn't be explained in another way. Mountains have never been moved by faith alone.

If you saw a beautiful sunset and exclaimed "God is good!", how do you know that God made it that way? Even if it is a beautiful sight and a joyous moment for you, it may be the signal of a time of great fear and suffering for others. It may be the last sunset for someone that is dying a tragic and senseless death, leaving behind a loving widow and children. It may be a person that was killed by someone who believed that their god was right and ours was wrong. If you believe that Islam is a false religion; that Allah is a false god, and that Christianity is the one true religion, and that Yahweh (Jehovah, God the Father) is the one true God, remember this: they are the same god. Islam is an Abrahamic religion.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Better Bible

In the beginning of our current instance of space-time, a big bang occurred. There is evidence for this. Out of the chaos of the initial energy and matter-antimatter annihilation, the remnants formed simple atoms of protons, neutrons, electrons, etc., which were mostly hydrogen and helium. As matter coalesced and compacted, space-time curved into pockets of gravity wells which drew in even more matter into its cores. Giant spinning clouds enabled smaller spinning clouds to compact and form stars. Larger stars formed heavier elements through ever-increasing pressures, and supernovae distributed this amongst the galactic neighborhood. Rocky planets began forming out of the stellar accretion disk while the stars formed. Some of these planets happened to be positioned in orbits that were close enough to the star to have liquid water, and they were massive enough to retain an atmosphere.
One of these planets, orbiting an ordinary star about halfway out from the center of an ordinary galaxy, later became known as Earth. An unusually large natural satellite helped the evolution of life by adding to the sun's tidal forces which allowed marine animals to interact and adapt with the atmosphere and sunlight in tide pools. Marine life began producing oxygen as a by product of photo-synthesis and an ozone layer was formed, helping to shield the surface from too much ultraviolet radiation. The oxygen in the atmosphere combined with the surface rocks to form granite layers of the earth's crust which floated above the molten heavier magma underneath. The earth, having a spinning core of iron and nickel, produced a magnetic field which helps to shield the earth from dangerous outbursts of solar particles whenever the sun behaves violently. Through many ages of geologic time with meteor bombardments, ice ages, plate tectonic shifting, radioactivity, water cycles, and the burgeoning of diverse life, eventually humans evolved large brains and dexterous hands and curious minds.
Humans have developed highly flexible brains that can invent various methods of dealing with the world around them. It is easy to assign agency to unknown behaviors in nature or anthropomorphize animals. Some called the wind the 'breath of life'. Some believed that volcanoes had gods controlling them and that whenever the volcano erupted and destroyed a village, the god was angry with the people in the village. Events in nature that displayed more power than humans had were attributed to mythical godlike beings that could appear as human, but had wondrous powers.
These beings had stories associated with them which the people would pass on from generation to generation, slightly altering the details every time. Some people came to fear these gods, to adore them, and to worship them. They tried to communicate with these invisible beings with fervent prayer. But no clear reply came back. To satisfy this need, some invented the godly responses, told them to others, and even believed it themselves. A few of these learned that there was power in bringing the words of the gods to others. Common folk would revere these gifted men and treat them royally as they were the conduit from which godly words flowed both to and from the god. This ecclesiastical jurisdiction afforded priests the same powerful influence over the masses as did the ruling classes and government. Religion is man-made.

THE HUMANIST TEN COMMANDMENTS (strongly-worded suggestions for living, the kinds of ideas that, if everyone followed them, might make the world a better place all around)

1) You should strive to promote the greater good of humanity before all selfish desires.

2) You should be curious, for asking questions is the only way to find answers.

3) Harm to your fellow human is harm to humanity. Therefore, you should not kill, rape, rob, or otherwise victimize anyone.

4) You should treat all humans as equals, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, identity, orientation, physical ability, or status.

5) You should use reason as your guide. Science, knowledge, observation, and rational analysis are the best ways to determine any course of action.

6) You should not force your beliefs onto others, nor insist that yours be the only and correct way to live happily.

7) If you govern, you should govern with reason, not with superstition. Religion should have no place in any government which represents all people and beliefs.

8) You should act for the betterment of your fellow humans, and be, whenever possible, altruistic in your deeds.

9) You should be good to the Earth and its bounties, for without it, humankind is lost.

10) You should impart your knowledge and wisdom gained in your lifetime to the next generation, so that with each passing century, humanity will grow wiser and more humane.

Final Words:
There is no evidence for an afterlife. Don't live your life expecting a second chance at the end. Wanting to live forever is a foolish notion. Billions of people may disagree with these words, but many younger people may see the truth in them.

Slavery, terrorism, religious extremism, and genocide should not be tolerated. The Christian bible promotes these behaviors. I abhor them.  It is NOT a good book.

Someday, far in the future, mankind may have grown up, putting away its childish ways. Churches still standing will be museums for ancient dogma and belief systems long-discarded. Or, they may be put to good use for humanitarian causes. You can believe whatever you want, but I encourage you to think more than you believe; understand more than you criticize; plan more than you hope, and love more than you thought was possible.