June 30, 2008

What Type Of Creationist Are You?

I came across the following definitions from this post at Skeptoid. It is pretty interesting and even enlightening to see someone actually define how theists come to terms(or not) with actual scientific knowledge, while still fitting God into the gaps and/or adding God into the equation.

Theistic Evolution:
Evolution by natural processes is the tool God used

Evolutionary Creationism:
Adam and Eve were the first spiritually aware humans

Progressive Creationism:
Humans were a special creation event

Day-Age Creationism:
Six days of creation were six geological epochs

Gap Creationism:
4.5 billion year gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2

Earth was created with the appearance of age and of evolution

Young Earth Fundamentalism:
Invented versions of all natural sciences to explain Earth's age as 6,000 years

To expand:

1. Theistic Evolution. This is the Catholic Pope's officially stated position, and it's embraced by many real scientists of faith. Theistic evolution accepts both the geologic and biologic records, including modern evolutionary synthesis, and posits that these are simply the tools God chose to create the natural world. Theistic evolution allows and embraces scientific research and permits the acceptance of new information.

2. Evolutionary Creationism also accepts the geologic and biologic records, and makes its creationist distinction in that there were a literal Adam and Eve who were simply the first spiritually aware humans, though they came into being in the same way as all early humans.

3. Progressive Creationism goes one step farther. Progressive Creationism accepts the geologic record, and much of the prehistoric biologic record, including the true age of dinosaurs and other early lifeforms, but believes that the creation of humans and perhaps other modern animals was a special creationism event as literally depicted in Genesis. Thus, there can be no biological link between humans and early hominids from the fossil record.

4. Day-Age Creationism is the belief that the six days of creation were really six geological epochs. Usually some effort is made to reconcile specific days in Genesis to specific epochs in Earth history, but since things didn't really all happen separately and consecutively like in Genesis, such efforts are generally somewhat ham-handed. But at least they're trying. Day-Age Creationism is what Jehovah's Witnesses advocate in their Watchtower pamphlets.

5. Gap Creationism is about as far as the Old Earth model can be stretched. This model attempts to unify the true age of the Earth as measured by science with the literal Biblical account. Jimmy Swaggart advocates this model. Gap Creationism states that the first verse of the Bible, God created the heavens and the Earth, was followed by a "gap" of 4.5 billion years, during which time not much happened. And then, the literal creation of Genesis took place in six days about six to ten thousand years ago. Necessarily, this model has to abandon evolution completely, although it adheres to proper geology.

6. Omphalism. This is named after the 1857 book Omphalos, published two years before Darwin's Origin of Species, which explained that the fossil record was God's way of making the Earth appear to be old. Omphalos is Greek for navel, and the Omphalists believe that Adam and Eve were created with navels, thus having the appearance of being created through normal evolutionary biology. Adherents to Omphalism fully accept every scientific measurement of the age of the Earth and every discovery of modern biology, with the important exception that all such discoveries are wrong: God only wanted to make us think that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that life evolved from lower forms. A true scientist doing real research can be an Omphalist. He will arrive at the correct conclusions, though he will believe that his measurement is merely what God wants him to see.

7. Modern Young Earth Fundamentalism. Here is where the train jumps completely off the tracks. Modern Young Earthers, for lack of a better name, are the ones behind the Creation Museum discussed earlier. They honestly believe in alternate versions of virtually every science known, throwing away every shred of modern science that doesn't point to the age of the Earth as 6,000 years. They literally believe in Adam and Eve (without navels) and all the dinosaurs on Day 1, fossilization taking only a few hundred years, and all major geologic features having been created in a few days in Noah's Flood. They reject evolution, cosmology, geology, and every science that supports them; which, by extension, eventually includes every scientific discipline. However, in their minds, they don't reject them at all; they fully embrace completely wrong, misinterpreted, misunderstood, and misrepresented versions of them. Their worldview is based absolutely on the Bible as a perfect, unerring, literal historical account. As a followup, they have invented their own versions of natural sciences that they pretend supports this view. It is not possible to be a thoroughly researched Young Earther and still retain any grasp on rationality. This is the group making the overwhelming majority of noise in the media and modern culture, but it's not clear how large of a group this really is. They have the largest and loudest web presence, with AnswersInGenesis.org and the Discovery Institute, though out of 3.2 million Ph.D.'s worldwide they've only been able to find 700 who agree with their science, according to their list maintained at DissentFromDarwin.org. This represents 2% of 1% of people with advanced academic degrees.

What Best Describes Your Views About Creation?
Theistic Evolution
Evolutionary Creationism
Progressive Creationism
Day-Age Creationism
Gap Creationism
Young Earth Fundamentalism
No Evidence And/Or Need For A God
God Has Been Benign Throughout With No Plan
God Has Been Benign With A Plan
Free polls from Pollhost.com

I'm pretty OK with the first two on the list. I'm a firm believer that we are susceptible to believe in God, that we evolved this trait. Coming to grips with a Godless universe is not that easy once you are indoctrinated. It takes a lot of honesty and objectivity to become an atheist. And I'm not trying to say that I'm better than a theist, you can draw your own conclusions:)

There is a lot of overlap in the first two camps though. I'm not sure how Dr. Ken Miller, a Catholic who is totally anti-Intelligent Design would answer the question of which camp he belongs. I'm sure he thinks God has a plan, and I think I remember reading something about him believing that Adam and Eve evolved as the first human beings, and were actual individuals who God allegorically spoke about in the bible.

I'd like to think that most critical thinking believers fall into one of the first two categories.

I've discussed the idea of special creation with a Muslim on the internet a while back. He still thought that God poofed man here as man after the dinosaurs were killed off. I'm not sure how many people believe that stuff though. Muslims don't seem to readily accept evolution though. Like Day-Age and Gap Creationism Progressive Creationism denies reality, but not as much as the Young Earth Creationists.

I'm sure I've come across a few Omphalist nuts on the internet. At least these people aren't as dishonest and embarrassing as the Young Earth Fundamentalists who will come up with the most mind boggling and idiotic explanations in order to fit science into the bible.

Unfortunately, in the USA close to 45% of the people are not in the first two categories but the last 5 categories. And there is overlap, I'm sure that there are many people out there who wilfully have no opinion on evolution or the age of the earth. They want to keep their head in the sand and not think about it.

June 26, 2008

More Must See Videos From Potholer54

Maybe it is the Australian accent that gives Potholer54 an edge when it comes to sounding like an authority. It really doesn't matter though. His videos are the best when it comes to explaining evolution and the beginnings of the universe. Here is a summation of his Made Easy Series.

If you have anyone who you feel is lacking in understanding of things like evolution or how life could have started on earth without some invisible sky fairy zapping it here, send them the appropriate video by email. Here is Potholer54's entire series.

Potholer54 has started a new series called Debunking Creationist Garbage. Here is his first video:

June 23, 2008

George Carlin: RIP

The world lost a very funny atheist. He made us think, whether one agreed with him or not. His videos on Religion and the 10 Commandments just have to make theists at least question their beliefs.
I remember him having a heart attack (it was almost 30 years ago). I looked at him as someone who knew his days were numbered, for quite a while. But it apparently didn't make him become closer to God.
I did a post on George Carlin in April of 2006. Here is a newly edited version of it:

This video is called Religion Is Bullsh@t (It contains foul language in case you are at work or there are kids in the room).

Here are some Carlin Quotes:

“Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.”

“The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music”

“If God had intended us not to masturbate he would've made our arms shorter”

“If churches want to play the game of politics, let them pay admission like everyone else”

“I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it.”

“Religion is just mind control”

Some more:

"We created God in our own image and likeness."

"I credit that eight years of grammar school with nourishing me in a direction where I could trust myself and trust my instincts. They gave me the tools to reject my faith. They taught me to question and think for myself and to believe in my instincts to such an extent that I just said, 'This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it's not for me."

"Religion convinced the world that there's an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there's 10 things he doesn't want you to do or else you'll to to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you! ...And he needs money! He's all powerful, but he can't handle money!"

"Religion is sort of like a lift in your shoes. If it makes you feel better, fine. Just don't ask me to wear your shoes."

"I finally accepted Jesus. not as my personal savior, but as a man I intend to borrow money from."

"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death."

Ok, I might as well add this clip of George trimming down the 10 Commandments to only 2 Commandments. Again, there is some foul language:

June 20, 2008

Aboriginal Brazilian Tribes Bury Children Alive

NOTE: I was informed the following video is a recreation. Makes sense. I can't see how a cameraman could let it happen. I have a problem with cameramen who film wildlife becoming snacks as well. But I can also see them letting it happen.

The internet has lots of disturbing things on it. But this has to be right at the top of the list:

The Tradition of Infanticide

The tradition is based on beliefs that babies with any sort of physical defect have no souls and that others, such as twins or triplets, are also "cursed".

The Brazilian authorities turn a blind eye to infanticide, out of respect for the tribal culture.

Imagine if these Aboriginal Brazilians wrote a bible today. It might even resemble the Old Testament. God was OK with stonings and murder and sacrifice. The New Testament was definitely OK with Jesus sacrificing himself.

But this goes back to the fact that we evolved a susceptibility to believe in the supernatural.

Man is superstitious by nature. Our ancestors, who probably resembled the tribe in the film, couldn't explain lightning, so they had to make up supernatural causes and buy into them, in order to not go crazy. Faced with self awareness and knowledge of mortality, all sorts of weird ideas could then be put into cultural rituals to appease their God or Gods, and avoid death for at least a while, or make sure that they'll be taken care of after they die.

Surely, their God is not the Abrahamic God, yet they still have a concept of a God who can curse them and give them bad luck if they don't perform rituals that they obviously made up....well they had to make them up, unless one believes that God went to Brazil and gave them the go ahead to bury babies.

Can you believe that this stuff still goes on in the year of 2008? I do. After all, even in a progressive province like Ontario, we still have prayer in the Legislature.

June 18, 2008

Tagged Again: Atheist 13 Meme

Stardust Musings has tagged me even though she knows I detest being tagged. I actually didn't mind this one because I've been a blog slump for a while, and this one was kind of fun to do. 10 questions, and at least 10 answers.

Q1. How would you define “atheism”?

An atheist is someone who answers the question "do you believe in God?" with a no. Atheism is the acknowledgment that there is no evidence for God or any other supernatural being, therefore there is no reason to consider God as nothing more than an invention of man.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

I grew up as a very secular Jew. I had a Bar Mitzvah which included a crash course in Hebrew. I was brought up assuming the God, the Exodus, and the Flood were undeniably true, but these things were never discussed at home unless the movie The Ten Commandments was on TV or during our English version of Passover.

Q3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?


Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

My favourite part of science right now is discoveries of how "weird" animals became weird through evolution.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?

First, I admit the atheist community exists, but it is pretty much an internet phenomenon. The Atheist blogroll coupled with the Youtube atheist community have brought many atheists together.
I guess I'd like to see atheists who don't want to ruffle feathers become more vocal about their lack of beliefs.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?

I'd be shocked that I have a kid. Sure, I had quite a few serious one night stands, especially in the mid to late 80's. And condoms did break, and were sometimes forgotten. But I figure I would have heard by now if I was a daddy.

Q7. What’s your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

Since I haven't met a theistic argument that I couldn't slaughter, I guess my favourite type of argument is one that I can overcome in a couple of sentences while hopefully making the theist "think."
It might be the "you can't prove God doesn't exist" argument. I simply say, "I can't disprove God just like I can't disprove that a Leprechaun lives in the the center of the sun and controls all the weather in the universe. But you are the one who states there is a God, so it is up to you to provide evidence."

Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

My support for Israel. I seem to have to overcome the religious aspect of Israel's formation and existence, but it is easy for me, because I see Israel as a last resort to escape anti-semitism which has been an all too real phenomenon for 2000 years.
Also, many atheists are far Left to the point that they think that victim is the one who has less opportunities....they assume the Palestinians are the victims, much like many far Lefties believe that a crack addict who robs a bank is 90% a victim of society. I tend to believe that individuals should be held responsible for their own actions, and that includes being responsible for support of suicide bombings.

Q9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

I find Dawkins to be the most enjoyable and entertaining of the four.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

Obama. Since he is going to be the most powerful man in the world (I'd rather see McCain as President btw), I don't want religious fantasy to get in his way.

Now name three other atheist blogs that you’d like to see take up the Atheist Thirteen gauntlet:

The Jewish Atheist, Gripes Of Wrath, and The Atheist Blogger.