Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Strong Atheist's Case Against Christian Theology

I. *Representative* Scientific Objections to The Bible:

A. Adam and Eve story.

1. How did God create a female (Eve) from the male DNA of Adam's rib?
2. How did Adam and Eve successfully mate and produce offspring when, at most, they had identical DNA, and at least, they were twins?
3. How did a snake acquire the ability to speak in human language? How was this physiologically possible?

B. Crossing the Red Sea.

Stipulating: The sea is roughly 1900km long and at its widest is more than 300km. The sea floor has a maximum depth of 2,500m in the central median trench and an average depth of 500m, but it also has extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life and corals. The sea has a surface area of roughly 438,000 or 450,000km².
1. Stipulating that, how did Moses and the Israelites pass through it? After all, it was substantial enough to deluge Pharaoh's army.
2. If the sea was parted, how precisely was that done?

C. Jesus' resurrection.

1. How did Jesus rise from the dead, and walk around good as new, when after dozens of hours of being dead, he would be brain dead, with decayed muscles, bloated from gasses, with blisters on his skin and with millions of dead and useless cells, including dead and useless heart and kidney cells? It should be noted that brain death is irreversible in every instance. It cannot be turned back. It is permanent.

D. Noah's Ark.

1. How is it possible to hold all the world’s species in an ark with the dimensions specified? There are possibly up to 100 million animal species alone.
2. How is it possible to feed these millions of animals?
3. How did specific species and classes of animals become trapped on different continents? For example, most marsupials are only found in Australia. If the Noah’s Ark story were true, then we should expect a more homogeneous converge of species.
4. Why didn't many aquatic ecosystems die off from the massive change in salinity?
5. Why didn't many modern plants die out, as they should have?

Note: One may not cite "miracles" to explain any of these phenomena until the concept of "miracles" is shown to have a scrap of merit.

For Reference on Miracles:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theism/miracles.html


II. Science's Take on Theism/Design/Creation/Divine Guidance:

A. Pervasive Atheism Among Eminent Scientists.
Information is from Here

In a survey of National Academy of Science scientists, 72.2% were overtly atheistic, 20.8% agnostic, and only 7.0% believed in a personal God. It should be noted that the NAS is the most prestigious scientific organization in the United States.

"Our survey found near universal rejection of the transcendent by NAS natural scientists. Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality)."

From these figures, we can conclude: 93% of scientists who are members of the National Academy of Science are in fact agnostic or atheists. Indeed, looking at a chart that includes figures from earlier in the 20th century, one can only come to the conclusion that top scientists are more atheistic than ever before.

Expanded percentages (among "greater" scientists):

Belief in personal God 1914/ 1933/ 1998
Personal belief 27.7/ 15/ 7.0
Personal disbelief 52.7/ 68/ 72.2
Doubt/agnosticism 20.9/ 17/ 20.8

B. Illogic of Omnibenevolent, Omniscient, Omnipotent Designer.
This is by Steven Pinker, Psychology professor at Harvard University, and appeared in Time magazine:

"Our own bodies are riddled with quirks that no competent engineer would have planned but that disclose a history of trial-and-error tinkering: a retina installed backward, a seminal duct that hooks over the ureter like a garden hose snagged on a tree, goose bumps that uselessly try to warm us by fluffing up long-gone fur.
The moral design of nature is as bungled as its engineering design. What twisted sadist would have invented a parasite that blinds millions of people or a gene that covers babies with excruciating blisters? To adapt a Yiddish expression about God: If an intelligent designer lived on Earth, people would break his windows."

C. Lack of Scientific Support for Creationism.

"...Taking into account only [scientists] working in the relevant fields of earth and life sciences, there are about 480,000 scientists, but only about 700 believe in "creation-science" or consider it a valid theory. This means that less than 0.15 percent of relevant scientists believe in creationism. And that is just in the United States, which has more creationists than any other industrialized country. In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than one tenth of 1 percent.
...
A panel of seventy-two Nobel Laureates, seventeen state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations created an amicus curiae brief that they submitted to the Supreme Court (Edwards v. Aguillard 1986). This report clarified what makes science different from religion and why creationism is not science. Note that there are no creationist Nobel Laureates."
source-- http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA111.html

Note: The scientific community's opinion, in itself, does not constitute proof of anything. However, equivalency arguments, comparing scientific opinion to general public opinion, are transparently fallacious. One need only ask oneself how many people on a busy street corner have any idea what "homologous structures" are.


III. Objections to the Bible's Accuracy, Historicity, Connection to Reality:

A. Archaeological Fallibility.

Many times, Christians will falsely claim that archaeology supports the accuracy of the Bible. They continue that the Bible's historical account has many times been substantiated by new archaeological information. Those are untruths.

"Archaeology supports at most the general background of the Bible and some relatively recent details. It does not support every biblical claim. In particular, archaeology does not support anything about creation, the Flood, or the conquest of the Holy Land.

If a few instances of historical accuracy are so significant, then an equal claim for accuracy can be made for the Iliad and Gone with the Wind.

Archaeology contradicts significant parts of the Bible:

The Bible contains anachronisms. Details attributed to one era actually apply to a much later era. For example, camels, mentioned in Genesis 24:10, were not widely used until after 1000 B.C.E.

The Exodus, which should have been a major event, does not appear in Egyptian records. There are no traces in the Sinai that one would expect from forty years of wandering of more than half a million people. And other archaeological evidence contradicts it, showing instead that the Hebrews were a native people.

There is no evidence that the kingdoms of David and Solomon were nearly as powerful as the Bible indicates; they may not have existed at all."
source-- http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH120.html

B. The Bible is Teeming With Errors/Contradictions.

"There are several aspects of the Bible that show it is not inerrant. These include factual errors, for example:

Leviticus 11:6 states that rabbits chew their cud.

Leviticus 11:20-23 speaks of four-legged insects, including grasshoppers.

1 Chronicles 16:30 and Psalm 93:1 state that the earth is immobile; yet it not only revolves and orbits the sun but is also influenced by the gravitational pull of other bodies.

and Contradictions:

In Genesis 1, Adam is created after other animals; In Genesis 2, he appears before animals.

Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23 differ over Jesus' lineage.

Mark 14:72 differs from Matthew 26:74-75, Luke 22:60-61, and John 18:27 about how many times the cock crowed.

2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1 differ over who incited David to take a census.

1 Samuel 31:4-5 and 2 Samuel 1:5-10 differ over Saul's death.

The four Gospels differ about many details of Christ's death and resurrection. For example, Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, and John 19:19 have different inscriptions on the cross.

Matthew 27:5-8 differs with Acts 1:18-19 about Judas's death.

Genesis 9:3 and Leviticus 11:4 differ about what is proper to eat.

Romans 3:20-28 and James 2:24 differ over faith versus deeds.

Exodus 20:5, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9 disagree with Ezekiel 18:4,19-20 and John 9:3 about sins being inherited."
source-- http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH101.html

C. Genesis' Incorrect Timeline.
Supposedly "infallible" Genesis has the natural timeline totally wrong.

"The creation account in Genesis 1 lists ten major events in this order: (1) a beginning; (2) a primitive earth in darkness and enshrouded in heavy gases and water; (3) light; (4) an expanse or atmosphere; (5) large areas of dry land; (6) land plants; (7) sun, moon, and stars discernible in the expanse, and seasons beginning; (8) sea monsters and flying creatures; (9) wild and tame beasts and mammals; (10) man."

"The real order is: (1) a beginning; (2) light; (3) sun and stars; (4) primitive earth, moon, and atmosphere; (5) dry land; (6) sea creatures; (7) some land plants; (8) land creatures and more plants and sea creatures; (9) flying creatures (insects) and more plants and land and sea creatures; (10) mammals, and more land and sea animals, insects, and plants; (11) the first birds, (12) fruiting plants (which is what Genesis talks about) and more land, sea, and flying creatures; (13) man and more of the various animals and plants."
source-- http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH801.html


IV. Logical Objections to Blind Theism (a.k.a. Debunking Pascal's Wager):

A. There is no point in believing in a God, even if one does exist, when one knows nothing about this deity's nature or expectations. For example, God could be benevolent and care about one's actions. Or, God could be malevolent and care about one's actions. Or, God could be benevolent and not care about one's actions. Or, God could be malevolent and not care about one's actions. Saying "I follow the Christian faith just in case God exists" is utterly nonsensical. That would be like somebody saying, "I follow the Satanist faith just in case a malevolent God exists." With limitless plausible possibilities, there is no way one can "be on the safe side" in terms of not offending God. And thus, Pascal's Wager is a loser.


V. Moral Objections to the Christian Conception of God:

A. God's apparent bloodlust.
I'll quote the Scripture:

Now the LORD had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold." (The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh's officials and by the people.)
So Moses said, "This is what the LORD says: 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt-worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.
Exodus 11 (1-6)

Rather than doing something to the Pharaoh for refusing to let the Israelites go free, God chose to murder every firstborn son in Egypt. What did the poor slave girl do to warrant her firstborn son being murdered? Did the slave girl set the Pharaoh's policies? Did the slave girl's firstborn son set the Pharaoh's policies? Punishing children for the immoral society into which they were born is simultaneously cowardly and cruel. Worshipping the God of Exodus is worshipping a God who apparently engaged in casual infanticide. It is amazing to think that God, who presumably has a totally unlimited pool of options, decided the very best option in this situation was to engage in infanticide.

19 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post is very, very good. here's something to give you even more "ammo": http://geocities.com/arciphera/documents/chat_transcripts/Ryan/Bible.basics.with.ARC.and.Ryan.htm (you'll probably have to read through the entire transcript in order to truly get ARC's point of view.)

6:38 PM  
Anonymous MiloKGB said...

Geez! Dude, you're so stupid :( Do you really think u're debunking anything? If so, then I am sorry for you.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very easy to belittle an author...

Much harder to refute solid arguments...

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

www.theinevitabledossier.com will adress these issues. Keep up the good work...

/M

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I have a question for THE SCIENTIFIC WORLD: How did Big Bang happen? Why did it happen? Where was all the energy before the Big Bang? If there was nothing before how could a ´nothing´ explode? If ´nothing´ exploded then nothing exploded!

7:08 AM  
Blogger Its All Just A Ride said...

well, to respond to the last question...

some of those things can be answered, but I wont for brevity sake.

Suffice it to say, the things that science does not know, it does not profess to know, and as such it has no qualms with saying, "We don't know yet."

You're free to say that God did it, until such time as you are proven wrong. At which time the more rational minded would appreciate your silence.

That is all.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Confucius said...

Funny how anyone who said the earth was round before Christopher Columbus's time was considered stupid. Even by the 'intellectual elite'. Has it occured to anyone that modern scientists may have possibly got so called 'fundamentals' about the Earth and the Universe wrong?

ASAIK, evolution (just the first theory that entered my mind :P) hasnt been proven yet, however, people 'believe' it is true. I believe that God made the earth in 7 days. It hasnt been proven by science either. So, what is the difference?

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

If this is a strong case then I have to say thanks a lot. You have really strengthed my christian faith, given the absolute feebleness of this set of arguments. ;)

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above commenter:

When a Christian clings to silly concepts like miracles and divine intervention, of course solid science won't make an impact. The very act of accepting "miracles" demonstrates a deep disdain for scientific knowledge. Thus, such a Christian is immune to scientific objections, choosing instead to be intoxicated by old-world superstition and primitive mysticism.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above comment:

And , on the flipside , it is useless to try to convince an atheist with faith .

Your/their faith is in man/world , which means you hate God .

So , why would you believe Him ?

No amount of reasoning will ever bring an unbeliever to belief . You need an exerience with God .

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are only able to perceive those things which fall into your belief of what is truth. Your mind instantly filters out all those things which do not fall into your "reality of truth" or those things that do not seem essential to survival. (the reason why a person might get hit with a baseball that came out of nowhere to hit them in the face. their brain filtered it out because it wasn't necessary to survival. it also the reason why objective scientists completely overlook important pieces of data.) Therefore, if you believe in God, you will see evidence of Him everywhere. If you do not believe in God, then everything about the faith in God and Jesus Christ seem like foolishness.

5:36 PM  
Blogger starcourse said...

There are about 16 different arguments presented on that site! I really can't deal with all of them. Have a look at www.polkinghorne.org or starcourse.blogspot.com if you are seriously interested.

The basic fact is that not everything in the Bible is intended to be 'taken literally'. This is obvious from the 'contradictions' that arise if you were to try to take it literally. The ancient Jews were much cleverer than most of us at noticing contradictions - so they knew perfectly well that the Bible has to be read on many different levels, and so have Christians throughout the ages.

Now it's obvious from Genesis 1 that this rib story is not meant to be 'taken literally', because we have already been given an account of creation in which male and female were created together. What then does this rib business mean? Well first of all, the word for 'rib' (tzehlag) also means 'side' so what the Bible is really saying here is that men and women are two sides of the one unity which is humanity. Remember God (elohim, plural!) says "let us create man in our own image - male and female created he them" - and we can understand this in the context of the Trinity, where the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is even more intimate than the union of man and wife. Obviously this is not about DNA! Indeed we now understand something of how God created humankind 'from the dust of the earth' and it's a very wonderful and interesting story, involving the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. But these details are not what the Bible is about: the Bible is about relationships between God and humanity. You need to take the general point that you don't refute someone's position by refuting something that they are not saying. If you are serious you'd allow Christians to define what they understand the Bible to say on this, and then try to refute that!

It is clear that the serpent is here a representative of the Devil. The Devil would presumably have caused Eve to hallucinate - less trouble than wiring the serpent for sound, though that is perfectly possible as well. Clearly the serpent didn't know what he was doing!

NB: I am not saying that the Bible has got it wrong. Any telling of a story leaves out certain details - no-one could tell these stories better with greater accuracy and similar economy and symbolic reference.

A Cambridge Prof has come up with some reasonably plausible mechanisms for the Egypt miracles. We don't know if they are correct - but it certainly shows they are not impossible.

On the resurrection, there are of course instances of people who appeared to die but have not - however this is not what happened to Jesus. We don't know the details of course, but God clearly transformed his old body into a Resurrection Body which is not subject to normal physical laws (possibly using a super-symmetrical transformation of the matter into the Dark Matter which seems to make up most of the Universe). If God perfectly remembers you and if your personality is about the patterns of connection and waves in the brain then God could, of course, recreate this 'software' on a different hardware - and it would be 'you' IF and ONLY IF you had freely given your will to God for Him to do this (otherwise it'd be a clone). Of course if God does not exist then true resurrection is impossible - so what? We knew that anyway.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating articles on "The Science of Belief" in the "New Scientist" for Jan 28th, 2006. Very thought-provoking stuff!

7:39 AM  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

Thanks for the reference!

7:21 PM  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:16 AM  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

As an atheist, naturally, I have many, many objections to Christianity.

Here are a few:

The Resurrection is scientifically impossible. When Jesus died on the cross, he suffered brain death. Brain death is defined as, "Irreversible brain damage and loss of brain function, as evidenced by cessation of breathing and other vital reflexes, unresponsiveness to stimuli, absence of muscle activity and a flat electroencephalogram for a specific length of time." The key word in all that is "irreversible." Jesus could not have risen from the dead after dozens of hours, because Jesus could not have recovered from brain death. Certainly, no alleged witnesses attested to a brain-dead zombie roaming the streets.

Besides brain death, dead people suffer from other negative symptoms. After dozens of hours of being dead, Jesus would be a corpse with decayed muscles, bloated from gasses, with blisters on his skin, and with millions of dead and useless cells, including dead and useless heart and kidney cells. Again, in that state, Jesus certainly would not be in any condition to roam. One of my major objections to Christianity, thus, is that The Resurrection story is scientifically impossible. Brain death, by definition, is irreversible; thus, upon suffering it, Jesus could not recover from it.

Another top objection of mine relates to Genesis, and the Bible’s overall take on the “creation” of the universe, Earth and human life. The scientific consensus is that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old, with an uncertainty of 200 million years. The age of the Earth is estimated to be 4.55 billion years. This immediately contradicts with Genesis, which asserts, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” More than 9 billion years separate them. However, Genesis does not get any better.

Genesis’ creation account lists 10 major events in the following order. (1) a beginning; (2) a primitive earth in darkness and enshrouded in heavy gases and water; (3) light; (4) an expanse or atmosphere; (5) large areas of dry land; (6) land plants; (7) sun, moon, and stars discernible in the expanse, and seasons beginning; (8) sea monsters and flying creatures; (9) wild and tame beasts and mammals; (10) man. That’s entirely wrong.

“The real order is: (1) a beginning; (2) light; (3) sun and stars; (4) primitive earth, moon, and atmosphere; (5) dry land; (6) sea creatures; (7) some land plants; (8) land creatures and more plants and sea creatures; (9) flying creatures (insects) and more plants and land and sea creatures; (10) mammals, and more land and sea animals, insects, and plants; (11) the first birds, (12) fruiting plants (which is what Genesis talks about) and more land, sea, and flying creatures; (13) man and more of the various animals and plants.”
Source: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CH/CH801.html

Interpreting the word “day” to mean “millennium,” for instance, does not help at all. The timeline in Genesis is fundamentally incorrect.

With respect to evolution, the Bible’s account of “special creation” is entirely incompatible with science. Universal Common Descent is accepted by about 95% of scientists overall, and more than 99% of scientists who actually work in fields relevant to life origins, such as biology.

“Of the scientists and engineers in the United States, only about 5% are creationists, according to a 1991 Gallup poll (Robinson 1995, Witham 1997). However, this number includes those working in fields not related to life origins (such as computer scientists, mechanical engineers, etc.). Taking into account only those working in the relevant fields of earth and life sciences, there are about 480,000 scientists, but only about 700 believe in "creation-science" or consider it a valid theory (Robinson 1995). This means that less than 0.15 percent of relevant scientists believe in creationism. And that is just in the United States, which has more creationists than any other industrialized country. In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than one tenth of 1 percent.”
Source: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA111.html

If one wants proof of just how widely accepted the Theory of Evolution is, just read the local newspaper. Frequently, one will see references to “30-million-year-old fossils” or “200 million years ago.” Truly, there is no debate raging in the scientific community. The debate has ended, just as the debate has ended about whether the universe is geocentric or heliocentric. However, based upon a recent survey that demonstrated some 20% of adult Americans believe in the geocentric universe model, we can conclude that a fictitious debate about settled scientific issues indeed does rage on among those not educated in the relevant fields.

Acceptance of evolution does not necessarily go along with rejection of the Christian religion. However, acceptance of evolution, as well as acceptance of other settled science, does necessarily require rejection of Genesis. Genesis and science are wholly incompatible, from Genesis’ substantially incorrect natural timeline to Genesis’ omission of Universal Common Descent to explain the appearance of humans.

Recognizing the utter scientific impossibility of The Resurrection, however, does seem necessarily to include rejection of the Christian religion. If one accepts science, one rejects The Resurrection. If one rejects The Resurrection, how can one possibly accept Christianity? If any leap of faith among Christians absolutely is required, it surely is the tremendous leap of faith that Jesus rose from the dead after a few dozen hours as a corpse. However, that's a leap of faith one who accepts science cannot take.

At this point, many Christians will cite “miracles” to explain The Resurrection. That’s inappropriate. One cannot substantiate Unsubstantiated Assertion A by appealing to Unsubstantiated Phenomenon B. In other words, one cannot cite something that’s doubtful in order to explain something that’s doubtful. My classic analogy is this: One cannot cite “Unicorn Jockeys” in order to prove the legitimacy of “Unicorns.” To use one thing to substantiate another thing, a person first must demonstrate that one of the two entities is indeed legitimate. Certainly, The Resurrection is doubtful. Certainly, the concept of a “miracle” is doubtful. Thus, one may not be used to substantiate the other.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Michael G. said...

You cant disprove the wind, you cant see it but you still feel the effects of the wind. That may not change anything for you. Faith is just that faith, believing in something you cannot see. Everyone chooses to believe in something, even if it is nothing or the belief in nothing. Thats admission that there is something, they just choose not to acknowledge it.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you really are somewhat simple minded and half educated.

i bet you were raised as a christian had a very naive simplistic wodden litteral approach and then were deeply disappointed by the reality that struck you and like a little child reacted with anger and then bitterness.

now you are trying to atone by fighting figments of your own erroneous imagination.

sad. but i mean there are past times that are more idiotic after all...

hope you will get over it.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous wholesale plants said...

TN Nursery is a state certified tree nursery specializing in native plants and trees, shrubs, fern, and perennials as well as pond plants and wetland mitigation.

10:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home