Yuval Noah Harari is great. I’ve read his first two books (I listened to them actually), and I’m about half way through his latest offering. It’s exciting (and terrifying) to think about the possibilities the future may hold, but he does engage in a lot of radical speculation. I have a strong feeling that Harari’s books are not going to age terribly well. We’ll look back at them the way we look back now at predictions of the future from previous decades.

But in saying that I was watching an interview with Lawrence Krauss yesterday and the interviewer was saying isn’t it depressing that you won’t be around in 100 years to see what science will reveal to us then and his response was something like “No, I’m happy to be here now, seeing what science is revealing now.” He mentioned that people 100 years ago can’t see what he sees. The interviewer felt a bit sheepish under that indomitable optimism. Krauss is just enjoying the moment. He shared how the galaxies are all spinning away from each other at faster and faster speed to the point where one day in the future the universe will look like our primitive ancestors had imagined it all along. Just one singular galaxy all alone. So he was happy to live in a time where he could see so much and understand so much. He felt he is on the frontier and that was exciting to him.

I remember watching another video where they said the people in the distant future may not believe our “ancient stories” of billion of galaxies because it will no be observable to them any longer. And our scientific certainty will seem to them like silly fairy tales. And their truth, which to us is the silly fairy tale of our ancestors will be scientific fact.

I guess if I look at like that I should be happy I am where I am right now. Not in the past, not in the future. Just enjoying the reality I have. We have no idea how the future will turn out. For all of my problems (and I do have problems believe me), in comparison to people in the third world or to my ancestors, life in 2018 for me isn’t that bad really.

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I think we lie to ourselves. We hide the truth from ourselves far more than we’d like to admit. We create narratives and we build up arguments and we tell ourselves these are the reasons we do so and so and act thus and thus.

Sometimes years later we look back and realise this for what it was. Yet we are probably still doing it right now in some way and don’t even realise it. We keep a positive self-image in spite of our flaws. Or we refuse to look at the evidence against our beliefs. Or we judge others while remaining wilfully blind that we do the same thing. Or we keep a relationship going much longer than it should because it’s scary to imaging living alone. Or a million other things.

And I can’t even say I disagree with the reasons for doing this. Humans have evolved to survive on the African plains, not to be purely rational machines. So of course we have some flaws in our critical thinking skills.

Many times when we are debating people online this is what we are debating to one degree or another. Not a cool, rational, purely logical person in search of truth, but a scared individual seeking to create and maintain meaning and stability in their lives. And you are an enemy to that goal if you are challenging it.

And while it should be our goal to live honest lives, without ourselves and others it does seem to me that, taken from a survival point of view, a little self-deception is actually healthier than radical self-honesty. And if anyone disagrees with me then I will challenge them that perhaps they have never tried for an extended period of years to try and be radically honest with themselves. That they have never made that a life goal.

So I’ve been thinking about Ray Comfort’s video for the last two days, which I also posted about. It is sad to think Ray has learned seemingly nothing in the 11 years since I was an avid disciple of his. He says that since evolutionists claim that nothing exploded and created everything it’s more rational to believe that the god of the Bible did it in 6 literal days.

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So I’ve been wondering about it. I’ve been slowly becoming aware that scientists don’t use language in the same way we do. They’re not trying to deceive, but like philosophers they can sometimes use language in a way that can seem counter-intuitive to us. So surely scientists mean something different when they speak of nothing. And sure enough they do. “Nothing” in scientific terms has weight and heat and space etc. I just came across this statement on a YouTube video that explained it quite well for me. It’s by Lawrence Krauss:

“One of the greatest discoveries and surprises of the last generation, if not the last century, is that the dominant energy of the universe resides in empty space, in nothing, you take a bit of space get rid of the all the particles, all the radiation and everything and we find that space weighs something and we don’t understand why. The fact that we can observe that at the present time is remarkable. …essentially you can get a universe from nothing, without any supernatural shenanigans. That basically by quantum mechanics and the laws of physics as we understand it in principle, an entire universe with a hundred billion galaxies, each containing a hundred billion stars can come from nothing, ’cause it’s total energy could be zero, and therefore you don’t need to literally violate any laws of physics to create a universe. Now we don’t know that for certain, but even that possibility is amazing.”

Comfort quotes Krauss in his video, but only selectively. Shame. Because he makes Krauss out to say something far less than he is actually saying. Everyone should see what he says in context. Still disagree if you like, but he isn’t simplistically saying what Comfort’s seems to think or wish he was saying.

And just for good measure here’s another great science educator on the topic Sean Carroll.

…only worse. Auschwitz was momentary. Hell is eternal. Hitler therefore is merciful in comparison to how most Christians view God.

All this talk of New Testament grace personified in Jesus means nothing. God’s grace is only temporary. His wrath is eternal. His grace lasts only a few years of our short existence here. For most of humanity their existence will be miserable and short and then they will face a “Holy” God who will nit pick every single trifling thing they’ve ever done and deem it worthy of everlasting torture. Torture only hinted at by groups like the Catholic Church and the Nazi regime. And if you are Calvinist it’s worse. God has chosen before you ever existed whether you would be eternally tortured in the fires of hell or not. What a wonderful being this Calvinist god is. Let us all bow before him. In love of course, not fear…

“Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

“The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire.”

How can we still view Jesus as most Christians seem to, meek and gentle, with statements like these? If the NT is anything to go by he was not, and he will be laughing at the poor unfortunate sinners who are either elected or chose by their actions (Christians can’t quite agree which it is) to go to such a place.

And what evidence do we have to go on? Well we have the Bible… No one has ever documented such a place. Some will tell us it is beneath the earth, some will tell us it is in another part of the universe and some say it is outside of the physical universe. Most Christians are fuzzy on those kinds of details. God knows and that’s all that matters… Assumptions on top of assumptions.

In the normal course of life people like evidence before they make a move. Religion asks us to have faith, and tempts us with promises of unimaginable beauty and life if we do, but terrifies us with threats of unimaginable torment if we do not bow the knee.

Just watched this. Here are my notes on it.

A university brought to you by Banana Man. Should be very educational…

Not that any “true believer” will care, because morality only matters when it’s someone they don’t like, but I just found out yesterday that Ray had plagiarised a portion of his biography of Charles Darwin for his 150th anniversary edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species.

Ray gave Penn Gillette scientific evidence for God… Wow. The greatest philosophers and scientists in the world can’t do that (Christian or otherwise) but Ray Comfort can.

Seriously Ray, a snake does not have a brain like humans do. A snake’s brain does not have the ability for speech. Speech is a highly developed part of the human brain.

Ray, you had a “salvation” experience. That doesn’t prove the Bible true. All it proves, at most, is that “spiritual” experiences like that, which are really just psychological experiences, have been occurring for thousands of years. People from all kinds of religions have life altering experiences. And to believe that you got your beliefs from the Holy Spirit and not from your 20th century Pentecostal Evangelical circle is to be no better than my four year old daughter who learned a big word recently, and when asked how she learned it said “I just got it from my brain”. It’s obvious she picked up the big word from her parents but she isnt aware enough to realise that.

You say God put stupid stories in the Bible to confound the wise. Except for one thing, until about 200 years ago humanity had no problem believing those stories. Humanity believed all kinds of stupid things, from the Bible and otherwise. You have a great knack for speaking after the fact Ray. You are not interested in truth, you are interested only in your dogma.

So because humanity has been slowly increasing in knowledge and realises it gets a lot wrong along the way we should just throw out the endeavour and trust in your 20th century version of Christianity because that is unchanging and eternal? Yeah right. Go back to the second century and show me any Christian who believes the Gospel as you believe. Just one. I’ll wait.

We all die. Therefore believe this message. An appeal to emotion Ray.

“Nothing created everything.” How about saying we don’t know how the universe began. Scientists are taking their best educated guess. You make that a sin by suggesting that they should already have all the answers or if they don’t then they should all be literal 6 Day Creationists, “Bible believing Christians”, which is a false dichotomy.

You then make an analogy to actual builders. But that’s wrong. David Hume said it best when he stated that we know how buildings are made, we don’t know how universes are made. Scientists are learning all the time though. If we followed your advice we’d still be stuck in the Middle Ages.

Wow, George Carlin told God to strike him dead and he dies at 71. I can’t take it! God is real! I repent!

Ray, not all atheists believe nothing exploded. There are many theories. I personally don’t rule out the idea of a creator mind of some kind. What I do rule out based on my own research is that if their was a creator that it was the god of the Bible. I find that absurd.

 

Did you know Kent Hovind claims to have an IQ of 160? I remember him saying it on one of his seminar videos and being very impressed. I wanted to find it again as it seems most people are not aware or don’t remember that he has claimed this for himself. Is this something he is willing to confirm for us?

“it is written and I believe that’s exactly the way that it happened. And I don’t believe you have to be stupid to believe that, I have an IQ of about 160, I taught science for about fifteen years, I used to debate on this topic all the time. There simply is no evidence for evolution. I think it is simple to see that dogs produce a variety of dogs and to assume that this proves that micro proves macro which is what he said, I disagree one hundred percent. It takes a giant leap of faith in logic to go from micro to macro. Nobody’s ever seen a dog produce a non-dog.” (italics mine)

I see now that as a good obedient Evangelical I unthinkingly adopted the views of my chosen leaders that Dan Barker was stupid and had stupid arguments against God. But once again when I decide to actually listen to the people Evangelicals ridicule I hear an intelligent, articulate, careful humans explaining with clarity why they no longer believe in Christianity.

I see now that Christians were simply strawmanning Dan Barker. Better to have seen it later rather than never I suppose. Dan, you have made one new fan today. Keep going.