No…There Was Not a Noah’s Flood…Sorry

So this Christian person writes to me and calls me a snob and complains that what I write is offensive for him to read. He accuses me of conjecturing on the basis of what I have been taught and therefore think I know…Well…DUHH…where does knowledge come from?

He writes:
“As a Christian, your atheistic views and dogmatic snobbery about them is offensive to read, the fact is that you don’t know – you are only conjecturing based on what you think you know and have been taught. You are no better off in your belief system than anyone else, so your high horse judgmental attitude is a put off; no different than any other fanatic, so get over yourselves.”

He is commenting on my blog of July 12, 2008 called:  “More Evidence against Noah’s Flood.”  Go Here for blog.

My ‘belief system’ is science, and yes I believe that my belief system is far superior to your Christian belief system when talking about the real world. Its superiority comes from empirical knowledge that is transparent and accessible for all to see and test…and learn about.  Your belief system is a book that was written by many different authors over roughly a thousand year period. It has many facts in it about geographical areas and some historic personages, but it is very flawed despite the denials by Christians…who either ignore the evidence or refuse to learn it.

It (Christianity) is also responsible for hundreds and hundreds of years of repression, torture, murder, death by any number of causes by believing in the power of prayer and just plain ol’ suppression of the human spirit. I don’t let Islam off the hook either…if anything they are much worse today.  The wars between Christian sects in the Middle Ages though was probably worse than any Christian / Muslim conflicts…so far.

He writes:
“That said, I like the scientific approach and take the evidence presented here seriously. As a critical thinker, I correlate between opposing views and take such opposite views as presented here with my own beliefs and research them out to further gain insight. I know that no conclusive answer will be had until Judgment Day, so I don’t get into this “know it all” game with people.”

Scientific knowledge is pretty much all I use in this blog.  I’m not just making the stuff up. I have been studying what I write about many years, and I don’t write about it if I don’t believe it. I think one can come to a logical conclusion on the evidence that is out there right now. There is no evidence, despite what the evangelical fundamentalist say, for a world-wide flood…ever…in the earth’s history. That is not my personal opinion (well, yes it is actually), that is the opinion of the sciences that work in fields that somehow impinge on that myth of a flood. That scientific opinion comes from lifelong work and study of literally hundreds, or possibly thousands, of scientists.

He writes:
“From what I have ascertained, a local flood in the Mesopotamian area some where between 3000 BC and 2300 BC is quite possible, and God’s Word to Noah written by Moses could very well have been in the context of that area as far as Noah need to know. There are also interpretation and time gaps from historical accounts that can account for minor discrepancies when trying to account for events thousands of years after the fact. So you trying to to pin “disproof” by variations of interpretation and context, just shows your atheistic bias – a dogmatic desire to “Not Believe in God.” So don’t make the mistake of excluding yourselves from being part of a sect as well, as offensive as that may be to join the rest of “us” in darkness figuring things out as best we can. Restricting the Flood to this local area also takes care of the only 8 people spawning humanity again “disproof” idea you present.”

There is archaeological evidence for a large local flood in the Mesopotamian area around 2900 BC, however there is no evidence for one around 2400 to 2300 BC, which is the time zone that most Christian apologists place Noah’s flood. The DNA evidence says that the human race existing nowadays does not come from either two or eight people. With all the other real evidence that backs up this statement in one way or another, I think I’ll go with this worldview.

He writes:
“Another point, is that I’m currently researching the aftermath and tribal dispersal of the people listed in Genesis 7-10, this historically bears out. So it is unlikely that one event didn’t occur while the subsequent events did. The fact that this probably was a local flood and beared out factually from there, doesn’t seem to be explored here. I think that shows a bias and not an actual pursuit of knowledge. You are too happy to gloat “see, there is no God” and “see, you Christians are stupid” for any serious critique of your own views to be part of this information.”

You might want to check into the information about the Earth being populated from pole to pole in the times that are recorded in the Bible. The evidence from the earth sciences is that the world was teaming with humanity and never suffered a total wiping out such as the ‘Deluge.’ We all came from Africa, not Mesopotamia, and there is very long DNA evidence backing that up. I’m sorry if that disturbs you, or you think I am gloating too much.  All the information is on the Internet and strangely enough, it comes from actual scientific sources, not atheist sites.

He writes:
“Suit yourselves, but I’ll take this information with a grain of salt and add it to the rest in my research, it does help and thanks for the research. And I’m as appalled by so-called Christian theorists that take no time to actually add any scientific research to their theories and likewise present a bias view. Besides that, I know there is a God and He’s My Father – if you don’t that’s your choice, but don’t get up on a high horse and deny things you really don’t know based on perception of finite knowledge.”

I am writing from the position of someone who is throwing the information out there. Many people will not read a scientific journal or magazine or take night classes in archaeology or religious studies, but might read a blog. My opinion, from all I have studied so far, is there probably isn’t a God.  There is just overwhelming evidence in all science fields that there is many-many problems with all religions, not just Christianity.  The Actual and Real evidence is just not there.

Christianity has no more superior knowledge, or more proofs, or claims to be more real than any other religion. In fact the reality of there being sooo-many different religions, and so many offshoots of mainline religions, each feeling that they have the only “truth”, speaks to the probable case of there not being Any truth…to Any God.

That’s just my opinion…twom

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Truth Saves

Texas Looses Sanity..Votes for Creationism

I knew it, I just knew it would happen. The Texas state school board has voted for promoting Young Earth Creationism in their public (tax supported) school system. This shows how much power the Christian Right (Evangelical, fundamentalist,* Pentecostals) have in this country…not only do they control the whole Republican Party, they now are taking over the education system of one of the biggest states in the Union.

Think about this. The State of Texas is going to be teaching in their public schools (tax supported) that God created the earth 6,000 years ago, there was a Universal Flood that God sent to kill all mankind, that God is responsible for all the languages in the world, that God will create a “Rapture” and all believers will float away to Heaven thus bypassing the ‘troubling times’ on earth.

Go Here.

Go Here.

People we are witnessing history here.  This is a new chapter in the religious wars we are fighting. Theocracy is fighting secular government in this country.  They want to control your life and the life of everyone around you.

This is really scary…American don’t seem to have any idea what can happen from just this one incident.  Remember your learning about the Catholic and Spanish inquisition in school?  Do you seriously want the evangelical fundamentalist* religions running your life? If we allow steps like this to continue it will happen.

I wonder what would happen if a student stood up in class and said he/she didn’t believe the religious interpretations that were being taught in science class.  Would the whole weight of school bureaucracy fall on him/her?  Would the principle be called in and the student sent home for disciplinary reasons?

“Sorry your son/daughter won’t believe what we are teaching and is disrupting our school.  If he/she continues this behavior, we will have to flunk him/her.

Hmmm.. Could a legitimate case be made to sue the schools for teaching Christian Dogma instead of real science.

From the Houston Chronicle:

“The board’s effort to undermine “universal common descent” in public schools will make the state’s science standards “an object of ridicule,” said Steve Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science.

“It’s really unscientific. It promotes creationism. It says that students will be required to learn arguments against common descent or ancestral connections,” Schafersman said. “The only alternative to common descent is creationism in their minds.”

“…There are many, many gaps that don’t link species changing and evolving into another species, so we want our students to get all of the science, and we want them to have great, open discussions and learning to respect each other’s opinions,” said Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, a former science teacher.

She scoffed at claims that social conservatives on the 15-member board were just trying to find another way to expose students to creationism — the belief that life, Earth and the universe were created by a supreme being.

“This isn’t about religion. I don’t know how many times we have to say it before people accept it,” she said. “It’s about science. We want to stick to the science.”

A comment on the above quote: The last I heard science wasn’t about opinion, it was about empirical facts.

Now the above statement by Barbara Cargill is just a flat out LIE.  You do not see any scientists in Texas, or the United States, or the world,  calling for the teaching of creationism in schools…only politicians and school board members;  in mostly Southern States, and with large populations of evangelical fundamentalists*. The only thing they want to do is teach their religion in secular schools and they LIE to cover it up…real Christian that.

*Fundamentalist Christians (such as Baptists, especially the Southern Baptists, Pentecostalists, such as the Assemblies of God, Foursquare Churches, Full Gospel Churches, and all other denominations of the so-called “born-again”, “Evangelical” beliefs) believe that the generation that witnessed the re-establishment of Israel (like anyone born before 1948 did) will also be the generation that will witness the Second Coming of Jesus and the consequent establishment of His Millennial Reign on earth…from Israel. Some others, such as Jehovah’s witnesses, also believe parts of this.

Are Angels and UFO’s Real?

A person writes to me saying that I should believe in Angels and Demons and maybe UFO’s because ‘so many people have seen them,’ and there are documented accounts of the phenomena. Well I don’t believe there is any ‘documented’ cases that have actually turned out to be supernatural works. If there were I think the world of religion would be vastly different than it is now…like the churches would be overflowing with people instead of losing people.

Here’s how I look at it.

According to MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), the one organization that keeps track of UFO sightings in the US, 12% of people in the US have either seen or knows someone who has seen a UFO.  That works out to about 4,000,000 people. That’s a lot of people.

The federal government has investigated UFO’s and they finally gave up, but they took it seriously for a lot of years. They ended up with about 500 cases with no explanation.  However, look around you…do you see UFO’s buzzing around, do you see government paying attention to the phenomena anymore, do you see widespread acceptance of UFO’s in our country, or any other? Anybody you know doing business with aliens?

After all these years there is still no tangible proofs that UFO’s exist.  In the early years of the UFO phenomena there were thousands and thousands of sightings every year, it drove officials crazy trying to keep up. Now they only trickle in, maybe a hundred sightings a year.

In the early years of the Hebrews and Christianity, people reported Angels and Demons, the Saints were visited, there were signs from heaven all over the place, Enoch walked and talked with God and the Angels gave him a tour of heaven, there were prophets roaming the countryside prophesying. There were people walking around who ‘actually’ saw the hand of God.

There are still some reports of Angels and Demons, but the government has never investigated the reports. Anyone reporting visitations from them are looked at as funny. Anyone who says they are in direct communication with God or Jesus is not believed…unless it’s part of their denominations shtick, and the followers are indoctrinated into this silliness. The Catholic Church kinda’ keeps track of bleeding statues and likenesses of Mary on plate glass windows and such. I believe they just chalk it up to the people’s simple faith though.

Simple facts staring us in the face.  There are NO bona fide or unquestionable, properly documented, official sightings of UFO’s, Angels, or Demons. There are NO documented cases of real Magic or supernatural events…ever.  How full do you think the churches would be if Angels were proven true? What percentage of the WORLD population would be Christians if Angels were real?  Christianity has no more, or better, claim to truth than Islam or Buddhists, or Hindu’s.

Billions of people can *believe* something…that still doesn’t make it true.

God only has to give one sign…show up in person to the world, or do something that is undeniably supernatural that the world sees.  Anything else is just men’s manipulation of the words…and people.

http://www.mufon.com/fastfacts.htm

They Thought They Were Free

“…What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security….”

“…To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it – please try to believe me – unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, “regretted,” that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these “little measures” that no “patriotic (insert country)” could resent must someday lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head…”

“You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not? – Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty…”
-Milton Mayer, “They Thought They Were Free”  UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS (1955)

President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney knowingly lied to start a preemptive and illegal war against Iraq and admit they (along with Donald Rumsfeld) sanctioned torture. Congress passes the ‘Patriot Act’ without reading it. Bush admits he ordered the spying on of ALL emails and other electronic communications (landline phones and cells) of ALL Americans. Bush orders the repeal of habeas corpus (they don’t have to bring you in front of a judge and can keep you incommunicado), and search warrants are a thing of the past.

Feds can break into your house, without warrant, when you are gone, download your computer and search your papers…when you are gone…without warrant. They can threaten anyone who sees them…with warrantless arrest if they tell you what they saw. These laws will remain on the books, and they have already been used in non-terrorist related cases.

“You have nothing to fear unless you break the law…ever heard of mistakes made by police, ever heard of government authorities going after someone with a dissenting viewpoint, or payback to whistle-blowers? The side effect of what’s going on is a slow introduction of the tightening of freedom of speech and civil liberties of all Americans.

We must, it seems, come to terms with the fact that the government actually thinks they own us, they can financially mortgage our futures (and our children’s children’s, childrin’s) and to a very large degree decide what our future will be by manipulation of laws.

What recourse does the common person have when government goes amuck, “for our own protection’, and there is no more “free press” or ability to publicly dissent?

Christians vs. Muslims

Most people in the US are aware that there is an amazing diversity of religious beliefs and forms and observances not only in our country, but all over the world. Religions come and go over time and their continuity depends mostly on how ardent they are, and how strongly they proselytize their beliefs to others.

Most of us also know that Christianity and Islam are the top religions. Christianity leads the pack with an estimated 2.1 Billion adherents, followed closely by Islam with an estimated 1.5 Billion believers. What may surprise some though is that Secular Humanists, Agnostic, Atheists as a group fall in third place with an estimated 1.1 Billion people professing that they believe there is no God. Hinduism follows in forth place with about 900,000 to 1 Billion faithful. What surprised me was that Judaism is in 12th place with only about 14 Million believers.

Another thing that continuously amazes me is each of the primary religions splits into many, sometimes hundreds, of smaller groups with different practices, and each one of them believes with every fiber of their being that theirs is the only ‘True’ belief and expression of that belief. Past beliefs or religions now tend to be labeled ‘Myths’ although at the time of their heyday many of those people would swear theirs was the only ‘True’ belief.

One thing we do know though by logic alone…only one or none could be true. That is true for the whole of religious beliefs…now or in the past. Christianity now has the upper hand in the United States, but Muslims are increasingly poking their heads up and asking for recognition and for consideration of their religious views and practices. Not too many people know that Muslims are reproducing at a rate at least double of that of Christians.* and if we can refrain from killing each other off, Muslims will surpass Christianity as the largest religious body in the world probably in this century.

England is already experiencing problems with their high percentage of Islamic followers. They are asking for their own court system and want to be the ones who dole out justice to their Muslim brethren for a number of offences such as wife beating and intolerance of homosexuality. How England will deal with this problem is up in the air at this time, but one needs to remember that as the population grows, these people will be able to elect their own into the political body now in power.

Now I am not writing this to knock the Muslims, I am only using them as an example of religious ambition to political control. They think (know?) that theirs is the only true and real religion on earth…and they want everyone to acknowledge and bow to their God. Connected to this recognition is following their religions laws and practices.  How should we as a country deal with this problem when it finally hits us (and it will)?

When this country was forged our founders had the good sense to separate the church and state in political affairs…this has benefited this country more than most people know.  Think back to your history classes in school and remember what life was like under religious state control in Europe in the Dark Ages.  The churches, Catholic and Protestant and Muslim made miserable leaders, and the worst of what they have done isn’t even well known…except to scholars.

The religious right in this country (Evangelical Fundamentalists Protestants) has taken over the Republican Party and although they no longer control the White House (soon) they control many local, state, and national political positions. This in itself is not a problem with me, what bothers me is that they are slowly using their power to move us closer to their own outmoded or just flat wrong religious interpretations of law. Since most of these people believe that the Bible is totally inerrant they think everybody should live and think ‘their way.’

Does this not sound creepily similar to the Islamic way of thinking? The Christians are already doing in our country what the Muslim’s are trying to do in England and meanwhile the US population of Muslim’s continues to grow…and they proselytize their faith just as much as Christians do…or maybe more.

No religion of today has arguments which are unequivocally superior to any other. None of them have any supporting empirical evidence which is stronger than any other. I was brought up in a Christian environment so I tend to follow a Christian ethic, with all the baggage that entails. People that are brought up in different religions are going to follow their own ethic, with all that entails.  Problem is that Christians and Muslims don’t see eye to eye on anything and there is a long-long-history of conflict (killing each other).

Is the solution to the coming problem to let one side rule over the other? We all know how well that works in the Middle East. Perhaps a better, more civil and less deadly answer would be to keep ALL religion out of politics. Is that even possible?

When we look at the many diverse religions we should notice that they are all incompatible. To put it bluntly; they can’t all be true, but they can all be false.
*In 1997 futurist John Gary stated that Islam is the fastest-growing of the major world religions. This is mostly driven by the higher birth rates in the third world. 1-22-09 corrected typo

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Early Christianity IV

In those times there were no churches or steeples, no pews, no altars, as we know them. The Christmas holiday did not exist yet. Many things, like the date when Jesus was born, were totally uncertain throughout the second, and into the third century. It finally appears for the first time on a Christian calendar in the fourth century as December 25. One cannot help but feel that the real beginning of Christianity is well over two hundred years after the death of Jesus

While the New Testament mention the idea of a church, using the Greek word “ecclesia,” early Christians didn’t worship in magnificent cathedrals.  The early Christian followers of Jesus would have mostly met in private homes.  Who presided over these rituals was at the time is an open question.

The early Christian churches were not organized as we might think of today, where there might be a pope in the Catholic Church, or priests, or even pastors leading the churches.  The early Christian communities were completely egalitarian.

But a hierarchy finally begins to emerge, taking on the form of the society around this young church. As these congregations and community continue to grow, there is a need for more and more structure. With that structure there came a power struggle.

As Christian communities were taking hold around the Mediterranean, women were crucial in spreading and nourishing the new faith. But when at the beginning of the second century, a hierarchy begins to develop…its face is male. Eventually, Christianity would come to oppress and silence women. So throughout most of its history, Christianity has been known as a male religion. Only the men can be leaders of the church. Only men can be elders, priests, pastors, or the pope.

How do you baptize? Do you immerse, or do you sprinkle? What do you do if there’s not enough water? How do you celebrate communion? How do you break the bread? What should you say when you have the Lord’s Supper?  The Didache provided structure for the earliest Christians.

The Didache is a composition that is titled “The Teaching of the 12 Apostles to the Gentiles.”  This is part of the legacy of the Jerusalem and Jewish Christian community to help the gentile Christian community’s structure themselves.  In Jerusalem lies the single surviving copy of the Didache. It was written about 100 A.D., and is a type of How-To manual for early Christians.

With this structure came power. And with that power came the final foundation stone of what we recognize today as the church, the authority to define what is sacred scripture and what is heresy.

By the end of the first century, the letters of Paul have been collected. The Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, had been written. But it would take another several centuries before the official canon of the church took shape. Different Christian communities had different gospels that they read during worship services. Eventually, of course, only four Gospels made it into the New Testament. Scholars are fairly convinced that these four are the earliest Gospels.

The church leaders ensured the survival of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John by discouraging the reading of other books in services and not reproducing them, which was the easiest way to destroy a book.  That’s probably what happened to most of the gospels that didn’t make it into the New Testament.

Armed with an organized hierarchy, a distinct set of beliefs and rituals, and canon of sacred texts, the Christian church had structure and power. Christianity was attracting millions of followers and growing in influence. It presented a clear and present danger to the Roman Empire.

Rome in the second century was the center of a very vast empire. It was now confronted with the growing threat of Christianity.  But the empire itself helped Christianity spread by virtue of its roads, bridges, and trade.  Some of the earliest writings of the New Testament and in the writings of Paul Christians are told to obey the emperor, they should be good citizens, and pay their taxes. The empire is seen as beneficial to Christians.  But later, as a mark of their defiance, Christians refused to bow down to the Roman emperor, and by the time you get to the Book of Revelation, the empire is the enemy. The antichrist is the Roman emperor.

In the ancient world, there was no divide between religion and politics. Religion was part of social life. It was part of political life. This made Christianity unusual because all other religions could participate in imperial worship, the worship of the Roman emperor. This did not set well with the Emperor so throughout the empire, Christians were tortured and slaughtered. Leaders had their eyes gouged out, were horribly crippled and killed, but throughout it all they refused to renounce their religion.

These actions by the Romans created an army of Christian martyrs.

But Christianity was also addressing the needs of this life.  Some scholars have thought that the Christians attention to social needs is what initially attracted people to this faith. Here was a community of people that treated one another as brothers and sisters.  They gathered together for worship every week and took care of the needs of one another.

In the late second century a plague wiped out a third of the Roman Empire.  Christians stayed behind to help the sick and dying and gave them food and drink. Many of the dying people recovered and were destined to join the ranks of their helpers.  Also many who stayed behind were women, and they came to embody the nurturing and healing quality of Christianity.

Christianity claims to be the only right religion, but in the Roman Empire this was a unique phenomenon. Christianity was monotheistic to the extent that it claimed that if you worship YHWH you have to give up all the other gods. As soon as Christianity converted somebody to this new faith, it destroyed the other religions.

Christianity not only survived, but thrived in the Roman Empire. By the end of the third century, Emperor Diocletian, whose own wife and daughter had converted to the religion, was so threatened by the growing power of Christianity, that he launched another campaign to wipe it out.

The empire at this time was probably over 60 million people and there were probably around 3 million Christians at the time. They were known to be a problem throughout the empire. So Diocletian decided to try and persecute the Christians.  A religion, whose very founder told the people to turn the other cheek, saw its followers slaughtered by the thousands in public.

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Noah’s Flood Can Be Abandoned

The geographical universality of the Deluge may be safely abandoned
Neither Sacred Scripture nor universal ecclesiastical tradition, nor again scientific considerations, render it advisable to adhere to the opinion that the Flood covered the whole surface of the earth.
Maas, A. (1908). Deluge. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved December 15, 2008 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04702a.htm

So, 100 years ago the Catholic Church was admitting ‘The Flood’ probably wasn’t a real event

Naturalists (early scientists) were disputing the ‘The Flood’ as early as the 1600’s. Here
The Nile River has supported over 5000 years of civilization without interruption. Here

The following civilizations were all centered in the lands written about in the Bible. There are archaeological records of many floods in the area, but that is to be expected because the area has two major rivers flowing through it. Hammurabi of course figures in the tales of Gilgamesh. All the evidence keeps pointing to ‘The Flood’ story being local or most likely just a myth.

The Sumerian civilization (ca. 4500–4000 B.C.)
The Akkadian Empire (ca. 2350–2150 B.C.)
The Babylonian Empire was an Amorite state in Lower Mesopotamia (modern southern Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged when Hammurabi (ca. 1728 – 1686 BC, short chronology) created an empire out of the territories of the former kingdoms of Sumer and Akkad. Wikipedia: Here