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Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Sunday, I want answers!

Via Pharyngula. Nice to see that turn the other cheek saying doesn't actually apply to these Christians. This is Hate Mail sent to Richard Dawkins, which he read an posted.

What is the one thing that Religion promises but never actually delivers?


Oh they think they are giving you answers when you ask them questions, but they aren't. And of course if they can't answer it they pull out their trump card…. drum roll please….. "God works in mysterious ways." Or, their new favorite "we can't know the mind of God."

For me, the whole point of religion is to explain were we came from, to provide answers to all those why's floating in my head. Yet it never does. Why is the sky blue? God made it that way is NOT an answer (Light reflecting off the water in the atmosphere is;).) Why is the grass green? (Chlorophyll in the grass.)

Of course when this is told to a true believer (I may owe Stan Lee money now) they tell you that you simply don't understand Gods plan or how he works. AGH! Those aren't answers either! OK, explain it to me. Oh, you can't explain that either? Well where the hell do I get my fricken answers then?

This is my favorite 'answer' to that question. "One you join God in heaven, all will be explained!"…. WTF?!? How is that going to help me when I need help now? Who provided answers to the other questions I asked? (And answered.) What can tell me what I need to know?


Sure they don't have all the answers yet. But for the small amount of time science has been used, we've learned a lot. Were humans come from, how old our planet is, our universe.  Why this and why that. We can even use science to show how those pesky religions with their non answers are wrong! Of course the true believers ($$$here ya' go Stan!) refuse to except this, they'll use all the medications and happily play with all the benefits that science provides, but if it dips into their closely held beliefs then it's wrong!  It sounds something like this:

"Why is science wrong?"

"Because! "

'Because Why?"

"Because the eye is so complicated! it's perfect! It could only be designed!"

"Really? Then why do I have to were glasses? Why is there this huge blind spot? Why is the image upside down and my brain has to flip it over?"

"God works in mysterious ways."

Thank you! I'll be here all week!




M.O.R said...

Ehhh...I'd rather see Christopher Hitchens take down these hate mails, seems a bit too frat boy-ish for my liking.

This was still funny, tho. The annoying laughing in the background, and the shaky camera kinda detracts from the whole message.

On the other hand, this does highlight the hypocrisy of Evangelical Christians.

I'd like to see him respond to positive emails, such as those who are atheists, yet question his methods, or those who are not atheists but point out the areas they feel are right and to the point. People with genuine opinions, whether good or bad.

Anyway, thats just me, each to their own.

Ben said...

Actually the sky is blue because blue light is a short wavelength of the spectrum that is easily refracted and reflected in our atmosphere. Thus you see everything in blue unless the sun is at a linear level with your eyes allowing you to see the redder part of the spectrum more clearly. If we had better eyes we would see the world in more shades of purple. Muahaha I just beat all religions.

Brett said...

Hi M.O.R.

Yes Hitchens would have been far, far funnier. This was just amusing;)

I'm sure there's something like that on the site. Personally I've never been convinced by Dawkins, he seems a bit in direct for me.

As for the questioning him methods, for me it's more why does there have to be one right way? I think multiple methods would work best. Some for certain people and other methods for, well, others. Personally I prefer mocking with comedy. But sometimes a frontal assault works just as well;)


If you want to get a technical on me, fine;) I've learned to never assume the science knowledge of the average Joe, I was just using the simple explanation. You start throwing words around like refracting and wavelengths and people just switch off (dunno why, waves, like bow ties, are cool!)

Thanks for the clarifications:)



steve said...

Then you've got those weirdo Christians who love the inquisitive mind and the fact that all science is built off of a belief in a rationally organized universe which was designed to be understood.

Saying God made the sky blue and blue light is a short wavelength of the spectrum are not contradictory but complimentary, as is all good science.

You have to distort science to get it to contradict Christianity. Unfortunately you've got ill informed Christians and prejudice atheists doing just that.

Also describing is not the same as answering and hypothesizing is not the same as a fact, so unfortunately a closed materialistic view of the Universe gives far fewer answers than Christianity does.

If you want answers Christianity has got them, but you may not like them.

Brett said...

Yeah those first guys are a hoot, as the Universe was not designed to be understood, it has 'laws' that prevent it from falling apart. If it was designed there would be a manual.

Saying something is supernatural in origin is NOT good science, its the exact opposite. Science (and I've said this time and time again) is the study of the NATURAL world, what you like to call materialistic because you think it's a dig. Sorry I need stuff to live, wait you do as well...

You have to LEARN about science and how it works for it to easily contradict any religion. Which is does... repeatedly. As for your prejudice statement... WHAT?

"Also describing is not the same as answering and hypothesizing is not the same as a fact, so unfortunately a closed materialistic view of the Universe gives far fewer answers than Christianity does. "

Once again you show how much you don't know about science. You get part if it right at the beginning. But I've yet to see ANY actual facts or answers that your religion has given us. Well? Jesus loves you is NOT and answer. You are a sinner but god loves you is NOT and answer. Your religions brings nothing to the table but a way to control people and make then stupid. Yes, sometimes they do help feed the poor but you know what? Atheists do that as well as does the government, it's a human response.



M.O.R said...

One of the, I suppose few,benefits of being raised Catholic was that I was taught Evolution in school, from a very early age. Good business by the Church I guess.

I just cannot fathom how someone can deny the existence of Evolution (unless one wants to get involved in philosophy and existentialism, but thats another set of argumentative rules entirely)and then go on to say that it is against God. I believe in God, though I cannot prove it outside of what I feel, but then again that would go back to philosophy. Scientists like Ken Miller (who gives a really interesting talk on evolution on youtbe-I'd provide the link, but I knowu you have a slow connection, and the video is an hour and 50 minutes long. It basically trashes all of the anti-evolution proponents, refuting their arguments, as well as saying that evolution does not go against a belief in a deity. Miller is a Catholic and says that while he believes in a deity, he does not believe in a deceptive one. He also states he would be horrified if someone told him to choose between his faith and Evolution. They are not mutually exclusive, one can believe in both, or neither if they wish)are heavily involved in the promotion of evolution, and Miller states the reason he is so adamant that evolution be taught is because it could prevent the next great scientist, like Stephen Hawking, Einstein, from furthering the cause of science.

The reason I feel that Hitchens would be more entertaining is because he would eloquently and more respectfully disagree. Hitchens has become more respectful of religion, and, in his current frail state, accepts any and all prayers or incantations that are sent his way, in order to prevent his death. Sadly, some "Christians" are saying similar prayers to send him to hell. I watched his interview with Anderson Cooper, and it is heart wrenching. Cooper, obviously, kept asking him the God question, which he answered once and got sick of answering again, but what showed how human Hitchens is, was he strictly forbade any questions about his children, as he said that would cause him to well up. He's an amazing man, and would no doubt verbally thrash Dawkins until he made him cry.

Hitchens points out the incredible crimes that are carried out by all religions, and challenges our acceptance of such crimes, eg genital mutilation on boys and girls. If Hitchens dies, this world will be a far worse place.

Nathan said...

These so called "Christians" are nothing but judgemental hypocrits who, in their emails, go against everything their religion teaches. Fundamental Christians are a contradiction to their own religion and teachings.

I am a scientist and I grew up going to a baptist school all throughout elementary and high school. They didn't dare mention the word evolution and only glazed over Darwin as a blasphemous, misguided human being. Creationism was the foundation of everything they taught. Every science textbook we had started with Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth..." yadayadayada. Fortunately, at home, I was being taught real science including evolution so I was given both sides of the coin. I found the more I learned, the less I bought into the whole creation thing and to a greater extent the whole religion thing. Evolution is scientific fact. Everything religion throws at science to refute evolution can be countered with fact. Look at viruses or bacteria...they are evolution right in front of your eyes. Ever wonder why it is so hard to treat HIV? It is because it is mutating to is evolving. And how can the universe be only 6000 years old when we can see galaxies millions of light years away? Religion can't answer these questions. At this point after everything I have learned, religion answers nothing and In no way does one have to distort science to contradict Christianity or any religion.

Religion is a dangerous thing...and is the most dangerous concept ever conceived. Wars are waged over it and people kill in its name. This is a fundamental reason why church and state should always be separate. Religion is a bureaucracy that gets in the way of spirituality. I am not saying one cannot be spiritual...but organized religion needs to done away with.

Just a thought after reading everything

This is my first time on the site and I wish I could've jumped in on some earlier posts.

Brett said...


It would sort of depend on which version of god Ken Miller is talking about. Science is not compatible with the biblical god, 6000 years 40 days of rain, making a tower to god. 2 of every animal, ect. You can sort of fit the new amorphous version in since it's more an entity that watches or started the big bang than one that interacts with us.


What science do you specialize in? And welcome!

Nathan said...

Thanks! I have a degree in biology and biotechnology specializing in molecular biology and am now getting my PhD in Biomedical genetics. Its real interesting stuff!

steve said...

I'm curious how the record of applied atheism when treated as a government enforced "religion" fares when compared to the atrocities of religion?

Here is an interesting article:

I agree with some of the writer's point, but his conclusion is weak. I don't think he liked where the facts were pointing so instead of saying all people have the capacity for evil he defaults to his view the world is made up of good and bad people.

Anyways back to the evolution vs. religion thing. Viruses and bacterias do not share the same cell structure as higher organisms; that is not where the debate is. They are not plants and they are not animals. No one denies they adapt, for this to support evolution they would have to evolve away from being viruses and bacterias. They don't. They remain viruses and bacteria. This is the definition of adaptation, once you use science properly you start to see there is no contradiction.

Problems usually arise when the definition of evolution is changed to mean what scientists have historically called “adaptation” or in the last twenty five years “micro-evolution.” This is arguing semantics. But it isn’t really the public’s fault for misunderstanding then arguing from false assumptions. Science has gradually de-evolved the definition of Evolution to the point it is a non-definition: ”change over time.” This anti-intellectual definition is taught to school kids while real scientists know the difference between adaptation and evolution, they just are afraid to teach it.

I believe in adaptation, science has shown that. Darwinian evolution? Nop;, no solid evidence to date. If you want to stick all the evidence we have for adaptation into the evolution box, go ahead, but that is bad science. That is why us religious folks get irritated with this whole science vs. religion debate. It only works with false definitions of science and/or religion. If you use academically correct definitions for both science and religious beliefs there is no contradiction between Christianity and modern science.

Brett, again science is the study of the natural world. It can make no comment positively or negatively on the supernatural. When you view this as a contradiction you have made a leap into philosophy. You are free to do that, but you must understand that is based off of faith, not science.


Brett said...

You're still thinking in terms of faith. Just because Stalin was an atheist doesn't mean he killed in the name of atheism. It's not the same thing and you just can't seem to see it. It's like saying all people who like Glee are evil will kill because Pol Pot liked the show. Doing something gin the NAME of religion is very different.

All life form on the planet share the same building blocks. If they were all specially created this would NOT be the case. but I'm sure Nathan can explain it better. It is interesting that Humans and Chimps have some of the exact same genes in the immune system meaning they share a common ancestor that possessed it and split off from that.

That mico and macro crap is ALL creationists garbage. We could use animals to test drugs if were were not related. Stop ignoring things because they are hard to accept, you are lying to yourself. Even without the DNA stuff, the fossil record has plenty of transitional species.

Science can be used to study the supernatural, you have to bring them some actual evidence that isn't based on some thing some guy heard. Science HAS refuted some of your magic book already. That flood that never happened ring a bell?



steve said...

The "micro macro crap thing" is the heart of Darwinistic Evolution. You really don't want to throw out the distinction (micro vw macro) because you would also have to throw out any supposed explanatory power you ascribe to the theory which supports macro.

Similar traits or common building blocks do not contradict ID, they support it. Artists are recognized because their work shares common aesthetic properties. also you would expect carbon based life forms designed for life on the same planet to share thousands of common traits.

And people who like Glee are evil. Do you doubt that? :)

Seriously, Pol Pot and Glee watching are examples of correlation, not causation. Stalin's actions were based off of his beliefs. You can make the causation argument with Stalin. Especially with Stalin in fact if you research his writings, so you are kind of shooting yourself in the foot on that one.

I will give you points for the "In the NAME of religion" idea-of course you have to then dig a bit deeper. Anyone can do stupid and then say my Religion told me to. You would actually have to study the religion and see if that is a legit claim.

Brett said...

Oh Steve,

This is why you can't get it. Atheism ISN'T a belief system. You can't put the blame on something that isn't there. Stalin put himself up as a sort of god figure. He set up a belief system in communism, that replaced religion.

So you're telling me god used someone else's template then? He couldn't come up with more stuff? Your telling me that god is no better than a human at design? Sorry but if god was so great he'd have far more variance, out of 21 amino acids he simply used 4? Doesn't sound very godlike to me. What's more plausible a being with absolute power uses only a fraction of available materials, or a simple molecule passing down the limited amino acid usage it developed to it's offspring? I know what you'll say because it's the easy way out and requires no actual thinking, just regurgitating.

What YOU don't seem to get is that many MICRO changes lead to what appear to be MACRO changes (adaption is the word scientists use.) We do know that some things change very quickly while others are more slowly. It depends on the environment a great deal. I'm not sure what you are attempting to say with the rest of that. Creationists are the ones that say there is no such thing as macro.

No Steve, all I would have to do is study the results of studies to see if your religion is a legit claim and it's not. I keep asking for evidence but you bring me nothing. I did try to 'study' the bible before. It's so blatantly unrealistic I really can't see why people believe any of it.



steve said...

No, I get the many Micros add up to a Macro. That is the theory. The fossil record doesn't show that. The fossil record does not collaborate that theory.

You can believe that, but that is in contradiction to the evidence.

The fossil record does not disprove evolution. Evolution could still have happened, it is just the branching of complex forms from a common ancestor isn't shown by the fossil record.

So the evolutionary response is we just haven't discovered the correct fossils yet or the transitional forms did not fossilize. Or hey look a bear turned into a whale because we found a few fossils we can kind of squeeze into a semblance of what we want all the while ignoring the cons this squeezing creates and only focusing on the pros.

The adaptation of organisms or micro-evolution within species is supported by the fossil record. So I read the fossil record as it is, not how I want it to be.

Again Creationism is a debate for philosophy- and we can do that too, but it is a different set of rules than empirical science so I only argue Intelligent Design in the adaptation or macro discussion. Saying "God did it" is not good science. Saying this follows all the ear marks of an information rich system is good science.

Anyways we can do this dance all day and you have a deadline. I don't want to eat your time away.


Brett said...

Actually Steve, that's EXACTLY what the fossil record shows. Simple to complex, branchings, and transitional forms. The fossil record proves evolution out.

I actually finished that book on Tuesday so I'm waiting for the next one which is why I'm back on the blog;)



Nathan said...

Sorry Brett, I have been busy writing papers and haven't had time to check back. I don't have time to go too much in depth, but Steve, you really don't know much about evolution or science for that matter. Your ideas of science are bent to fit into your model religion. You should read Origin of Species or pick up a modern evolution textbook. You are wrong when you say bacteria and viruses have to evolve away from being viruses and bacterias in order for it to be evolution. Bacteria and viruses are in included with animals and plants or what you would like to call 'higher' organisms because they have genetic material that can change. DNA consists of 4 molecules: adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine. They are present in every living organism and the change in DNA is the basis for evolution. Evolution is not just about evolving into another species. There are four mechanisms of evolution: selection, mutation, migration, and genetic drift. Natural selection is adaptation. Adaptation is evolution. Gradual evolution results from small genetic changes that are acted upon by natural selection and the origin of species and higher taxa can be explained in terms of natural selection. Natural selection is a process that produces descent with modification, or evolution. Adaptation is a characteristic that increases the fitness of an individual compared to individuals without the trait. Heritable traits that lead to survival and reproduction spread in populations and heritable traits that lead to reproductive failure disappear...this is evolution by natural selection.

Nathan said...


So,evolution is logical from these four points: 1.individuals vary in most or all traits due to mutation creating new alleles of genes and shuffling of alleles through segregation and independent assortment 2.this variation is genetically based and passed on to their offspring 3. In every generation there are some individuals more successful at survivng and reproducing than others. 4. The individuals that survive and reproduce are those with the genes or allelic combinations that best adapt them to their environment. This selection process cause changes in the genetic makeup overtime, or evolution. So, if there are differences in individuals of a population that can be passes on and if there is a differential success among those individuals in surviving, the characteristics of the population will change a little bit each generation. So, HIV. Individual HIV virions within the same host vary in their ability to make DNA in the presence of certain drugs because of differences in amino acid sequences. Virions with mutant forms are less likely to bind the drug and will reproduce more than does virions that bind the drug. Thus, the next generation had the resistance to bind the drug due to passing on of the genetic material from the surviving virions. Also, HIV orignially came from a strain that could only infect chimpanzees and through phylogenetic analysis, you can see the evolution or change of the virus. Natural selection can be demonstrated in plants and flowers, like the snapdragon or cauliflower. It can also be shown in wild finchs. For instance, the size and shape of a finch's beak is a trait used in getting food and thus has consequences on its fitness. Different alleles, or version of genes, produce shallow beaks and some deeper beaks. During drought, finches with the larger deeper beaks had an advantage for getting food thus this finch population evolves...selection occurs within generations and evolution occurs between generations. Natural Selection adapts populations.

Nathan said...


Data sets from living and fossil species refute creationists ideas that species do not change through time. Rudimentary structures, transitory developmental stages, and vestigial DNA sequences are readily understood in todays organisms. Extensive extinctions are supported by the law of succession, and transitional forms in the fossil record. Species were not created independently...extensive structural developmental, and genetic homologies exist among organisms which is fact and these similarities are explained by a common ancestor. Evolution can make predictions that can be tested and verified. Sequences of organism show changes over populations and common traits shared by different species. So, adaptation is natural selection which is evolution. You creationists are the ones who twist science around to fit your religious beliefs. Everything you said is twisting science to fit your beliefs. I just gave you the definition between adaptation and evolution. That is why us scientific folk get irritated with you religious folk. All I just explained were academically correct definitions unless you consider academically correct definitions coming from the Bible. Once you become a scientist, then you can debate me on evolution because it is science, not religion. You obviously don't know any "real" scientists. We can only hope more kids are taught this intellectual definition and not religious fiction.

Brett, you can check evolution textbooks for some more info and really interesting examples.


Brett said...

Thanks Nathan! Far better explained than I could!

I actually just picked up Written in Stone by Brian Switek (I have a picture in it;)) I haven't had a chance to read it yet but from what I skimmed it looks to have some great stuff!

I mostly focus on the fossils but my wife has been getting into the genetics side for breeding better dogs, so any and all information is indeed most helpful!