Jumping to Conclusions

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Similar to the false dichotomy fallacy, I find that the main problem Young Earth Creationists have – and even the mainstream religious – is that many of their arguments require a grand leap to reach their conclusion.

I will give an example: A common Creationist argument is the receding moon argument, where they claim that a few thousand years ago the moon would have been inside the earth, due to the fact that it has been receding since it was first ‘created.’ Ignoring the fact that the moon was not receding at a constant rate, which debunks the argument, the conclusion of the Creationist logic is that science is wrong and therefor the Bible is correct. Notice the jump?

Another example is the claim that the universe had to have a cause. Ignoring the fact that we don’t know this for sure, how come that cause is God? Why does it have to be a divine being, and more specifically, the Christian one?

If a supposed miracle happens, how does this prove the Bible to be true? This ‘jumping to conclusions’ logic is a major issue. Furthermore, it is commonly and happily used when someone has to try and rationalize a fact so that it is compatible with their religious beliefs. Such a thing happened when the age of the earth was discovered, and when scientific theories such as evolution were proven. It was quickly asserted that God ‘used’ evolution, or ‘set off’ the Big Bang. Even today this rationalization process is used by some apologists to explain natural disasters.

Not much to write about with this observation, but nevertheless it is an issue when trying to make religious arguments.

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The New Bible – Genesis 41

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The pharaoh has a dream that nobody can interpret, and Joseph somehow becomes the overseer of Egypt.

  1. Thanks to the forgetfulness of the cupbearer, Joseph is forgotten about, and two whole years pass.

2. The pharaoh had a very strange dream one night. He was standing by the Nile, when seven healthy cows came up out of the water, followed by seven ugly, monstrous cows. As we’ll see later, God has an obsession with the number seven.

3. The ugly and monstrous cows attacked and ate the healthy ones, and the pharaoh woke up. He went to sleep again and had a second dream, where seven healthy heads of wheat were ‘eaten’ by seven unhealthy grains.

4. The pharaoh called for the ‘magicians’ and wise men of Egypt, but somehow none of them could make up some random story and give it to him as an ‘interpretation.’

5. The cupbearer then remembered about Joseph, and told the pharaoh. The pharaoh called for Joseph, and told him about his dreams.

6. “I had a dream, but no-one can interpret it” the pharaoh said, “I cannot do it, but God can” Joseph said, for some reason giving all of the credit to God.

7. The pharaoh told Joseph about his dreams, and Joseph immediately pulled up the first random story that came to mind. “God is telling you what he is about to do,” Joseph explained,

8. “There will be seven years of abundance, which represents the healthy cows and the healthy grain, but after that there will be seven years of famine, and the good years will be forgotten about. The reason you had the dream twice is because God has made up his mind and will do it soon.”

9. “But why does God want to do this?” The pharaoh asked, “Maybe he’s just messing with you. God works in mysterious ways, after all” Joseph replied.

10. Now the pharaoh was not an idiot, and decided to make the most of the years of abundance. He would take a fifth of all of the food that was harvested and set it aside for when the famine struck.

11. “You have interpreted my dream, so I will put you in charge over everything in Egypt” The pharaoh said to Joseph. It was a rather odd thing to do, but Joseph didn’t question it.

12. So the pharaoh did what a lot of the people in those days did – rename things. The pharaoh changed Joseph’s name to the easy-to-spell name of Zaphenath-Paneah, and he ‘gave’ him a wife.

13. During the seven years of abundance Joseph went about collecting all of the food as the pharaoh had decided, and there was so much food by the end of the seven years he had decided to not bother counting it.

14. The seven years of famine struck, just as Joseph had predicted, and while all of the other lands suffered the Egyptians had food. The people went to Joseph and the pharaoh, and they SOLD the food back to the people.

15. They confiscated the food for seven years, and then sold it back to the people. And the people of other lands came to buy food, because the famine was everywhere.

 

The New Bible homepage can be found here.

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Was Jesus such a nice guy?

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Some people, mostly the borderline Christians who don’t pay much attention to religion and never give it a second thought, may be under the illusion that Jesus was just a nice guy who told people to be moral. While this is *kind* of true, there are some things that Jesus said and did that are questionable at best.

In Luke 19:27 he orders for people to be executed in front of him. “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.”

In Revelations 2:23 he threatens to kill someone’s children ‘with death.’  “And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”

Jesus drove people out of a temple, throwing over tables in a fit of rage and in some accounts even using a whip. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

In Luke 12:53-49 Jesus wishes to bring fire to the earth and divide people against each other. “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Jesus also supports the OT laws (Matthew 5:17-20) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

And we have the classic Matthew 10:34-38. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

And this is just a sampling of the things Jesus did. In some verses he is the figure that Christians want him to be, but in others he is clearly not a pacifist.

Ecclesiastes 9:5-10

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Every so often, when reading through the Bible, you find a very interesting verse. As was the case when I came across this one. Christians often accuse atheists of thinking that life is meaningless, but their own Holy Book says it is!

5. “For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even their name is forgotten.
6  Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.
8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.
9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

Of course, this is in the middle of the OT, and the concept of an afterlife wasn’t even in the Bible, but it makes you wonder why God would tell people that life is meaningless (even if he didn’t personally say it, he said it through the writers) if it isn’t. The verses also say that the dead know nothing, suggesting again that an afterlife didn’t exist.

Some people theorize that Heaven was only achievable when Jesus died for everyone’s sins, so the people that died in the OT, and throughout human history, went somewhere else. But it seems stupid for God to only send Jesus down tens of thousands of years after humans began existing. Even from a creationist worldview he certainly took his time, somewhat necessarily.

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The New Bible – Genesis 40

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The Pharaoh throws everyone he doesn’t like into prison, and Joseph starts his career as some sort of dream-interpreter.

  1. Some time after Joseph was promoted and made the overseer of all of the prisoners, the baker and cupbearer of the pharaoh ‘offended’ their master. If the pharaoh was anything like God, just asking a question would be worthy of prison.

2. The pharaoh was angry, and put both of them in the prison, where Joseph was. And the captain of the guard put Joseph in charge of them.

3. Soon enough both men had dreams, and, being the superstitious lot they were, thought that they were a message from God or something.

4. They went to Joseph with their dreams, “We both had dreams, but there is no-one to interpret them” they said.

5. “I don’t know why you just can’t interpret them yourselves, but I might as well give it a shot, seeing as my dream interpreting got me into this mess in the first place” Joseph said.

6. So the cupbearer told Joseph his dream,

7.“In my dream I saw a vine in front of me with three branches on it. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes.

8. The pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into the pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

9. And Joseph replied, “In three days the pharaoh will restore you to your position, and you will do the same job as you did before. Just remember to mention me and get me out of here, ’cause God isn’t helping.”

10. When the baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation – I.E he told the cupbearer exactly what he wanted to hear, he approached Joseph with his own dream.

11. “On my head were three baskets of bread. In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for the pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head” he said.

12. Joseph thought for a moment, before casually replying, “In three days the pharaoh will impale you on a pole, and the birds will eat at your flesh.”

13. “Damn” the baker said. “Yea, yea, I know, sucks to be you” Joseph replied.

14. Luckily we’re still in Genesis, so fortune telling and sorcery were not forbidden, and Joseph wasn’t stoned to death. Anyway, his interpretations came true.

15. The cupbearer was restored to his position, and the baker was murdered.

16. But the cupbearer somehow forgot about Joseph, and we all know that isn’t going to turn out good for him!

 

The New Bible homepage can be found here.

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Humans are an accident?

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“If God didn’t make us then humans are just an accident.”

This saying is similar in its mechanics to that of the slippery slope argument, in that it is designed to invoke an emotional response at some level, namely anger or disgust. It is designed as an insult, as if saying that humans are the result of some accident is a bad thing. But are humans just the result of an ‘accident’ of some kind, and does it matter?

We must first define what we mean by the word ‘accident.’
Wikipedia describes it as “an undesirable incidental and unplanned event that could have been prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence.” This is the definition that we most commonly associate with the word, because an accident usually happens when you are dealing with some level of intent in the first place. By this definition, nothing in nature is an accident. But if you define an accident as “an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause” Then you have a better definition.

As far as we know, we evolved from our ancestors in a seemingly random way which was the result of our changing environment, and when you reach the beginning of life it is widely believed that complex chains of chemicals formed the first DNA. None of this indicates purpose. None of this indicates anything more than randomness.

Evolution works in a seemingly random process, but it is guided by the changes in the environment. It is not as if there was a big hat full of potential animal species and someone just picked out our card by ‘accident.’ As for the Big Bang, I would hardly call it an accident. As far as we are aware, the Big Bang was either created in some way due to matter and anti-matter, or that the singularity existed indefinitely, and a some point something happened to cause the expansion. There is a lot we don’t know, and an ‘accident’ does not describe it well.

There is randomness, there are coincidences, and there is probability, but calling our existence and the existence of the universe an accident is, I think, a poor choice of wording.

But do we care? Does it matter if we are the result of a long chain of events that was not planned out in advance? I don’t think so. Holding the position that we are super-special and made by God is, in my opinion, egotistical. We humans have a natural tendency to think of ourselves, and that we are the most important. Religion further confirms this.

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The New Bible – Genesis 39

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God stalks Joseph as he lives as a slave after his brothers sold him for being annoying, and he doesn’t even interfere when Joseph is wrongly accused and sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

  1. Joseph ended up in Egypt, where he was bought by the captain of the guard, who was one of the Pharaoh’s officials.

2. The Lord was ‘with’ Joseph, silently judging everyone as he lived in his owner’s house. Joseph prospered, and God took credit for this.

3. When his master saw that the Lord was with Joseph he made him his attendant, and put him in charge of everything that he owned.

4. Because Joseph was now in charge the Lord blessed his masters stuff, and his master did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

5. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

6. Joseph refused, worried that God was watching. His master’s wife persisted, but he continued to refuse.

7. After another attempt by his master’s wife, Joseph fled from the house, leaving his cloak behind.

8. When she saw that he had left his cloak, she used it as ‘evidence’ and falsely accused Joseph of sleeping with her.

9. God must have been busy stalking someone else when it happened, perhaps forgetting that he was omniscient, because without bothering to hear Joseph’s side of the story he threw him into a prison.

10. Apparently the Lord was with Joseph as he was in prison, and although he never bothered to intervene and tell everyone that Joseph was innocent, he blessed Joseph so that he found favor in the prison guard’s eyes.

11. Basically God is good at mind-control.

12. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all of the prisoners, and he paid no attention to anything that Joseph did, because the Lord was with him.

The New Bible homepage can be found here.

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The differences between extremist Christianity and extremist Islam

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Muslims have recently gotten a pretty infamous reputation, or at the very least a bad stereotype. Unfortunately one of the biggest religions in the world has been grouped up with a handful of extremists, and now suddenly all Muslims are terrorists.

I don’t think that hate and bigotry should be directed towards people who don’t have anything to do with what their fellow believers are doing. Why blame a massive group of people for what only a handful (in comparison) are doing? Some Christians go out and commit mass shootings, should we ban all Christians from entering the US or something equally extreme? No, which brings me to my point.

I think that the main difference between extremist Christianity and extremist Islam is that the Christians are not as true to their Holy book, and I will explain why.

Both the Quran and the Bible have some horrible verses in them of both murder and orders to commit murder, and I will give some examples.

And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. Quran 2:191-193

“Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things.” Quran 2:244

“As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.” Quran 3:56

“And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…” Quran 4:104

“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” Quran 8:12

“O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.” Quran 9:123

For a nice long list you can go here and here. And now for the Bible:

Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the Lord your God must die. In this way you will purge the evil from Israel. Deuteronomy 17:12

“If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the man and the woman who have committed adultery must be put to death.” Leviticus 20:10

“Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed.” Exodus 22:19

“They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.” 2 Chronicles 15:12-13

“Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock.” Deuteronomy 13:13-19

“If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him.” Deuteronomy 13:7-12

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:34-39

And of course, you can find more here and here.

It’s clear that both books have many, many verses about killing people, and both religion’s followers have many, many arguments about why these verses should not be followed. I’m not here to argue that people should follow these verses (obviously!) but if the fact is that extremist Muslims are actually much truer to their Holy book than the extremist Christians are.

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Were ancient people stupid to believe in Creationism?

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A statement I have sometimes heard from Christians, mostly of the Young Earth Creationist variety, is something along the lines of this:

“Well, Issac Newton believed in Creationism, are you calling him stupid?”

This statement is also sometimes used as if the fact that Isaac Newton was a Creationist somehow gives credibility to the YEC claims. Many people throughout history, including many that accomplished great things, believed in God, Creationism, or some form of religion. But where they liars? Delusional? Stupid, even? I don’t think so. I do not hold the fact that these people were religious extremists as anything more than trivia, and I will especially not let it influence my view on their intelligence. Why? Because they didn’t know any better.

It doesn’t matter what these people believed. In fact, it should be of little importance, because they didn’t have any way of knowing how old the earth was, or how the universe came to be, or any of the other questions we can now answer. These people lacked the science that we have today, so they believed in all sorts of things to try and explain it.

The fact that Newton believed in God, and that he accepted a literal genesis, means nothing. The only other alternatives were to change to a different religion or just be satisfied with having no answer, and in those days that looked pretty impossible due to the fact that almost everything was explained in one supernatural way or another.

Furthermore, Newton believed that metals had magical properties that could change them into gold. Does this claim have any credibility due to the fact that Newton believed in it? No, it doesn’t make it any more likely or plausible, so why would his belief in Creationism or God?

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