Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Questions The Stupid Atheists Can't Answer

We've all probably seen some variation of this graphic before:

Personally, I've seen many different versions of it, containing a varying numbers of questions, always with the overall purpose being to provide evidence for the existence of God.

While my friend, who posted it on my Facebook page, meant it as a joke (one which I definitely laughed at), the actual points that it contains are all representative of real questions I've had Theists ask me. Since I'm 99.999% sure that the same questions will be asked of me again at some point; I figured why not just write down the answers instead of restating them time-and-time again?

So here goes, very quick answers to the above questions:

Monkey: Because we didn't come from monkeys, and certainly not modern monkeys. We share a common ancestor with modern chimpanzees and bonobos. This common ancestor, to the best of our scientific knowledge, has been extinct for approximately 5 to 7 million years. While that common ancestor no longer exists, it did result in divergent evolutionary paths; which is why humans and chimpanzees exist within the same taxonomic tribe (biological grouping between family and genus) but are of different genus. 

Mountain: Yes, although it happens on such a slow scale that seeing more than a few inches take place over a single person's life time is highly unlikely. Luckily the earth has been around for about 4.6 billion years, so there was plenty of time for it to take place. Also, we know that mountains do form over millions and billions of years, based on "mountains" of scientific evidence which all point to the same conclusion.

Cat-o-shark: There is no evidence to support species-to-species transitional forms. Belief in such a thing shows a complete lack of understanding of modern evolutionary theory (or even basic Darwinian evolutionary theory).

Peanut Butter Life: the truly spontaneous appearance of life, regardless of conditions, is something theists may believe in but there is absolutely no scientific evidence for it. Most modern scientific hypothesis and theories lay out a requirement of very specific conditions, which can no longer be found on earth, as being necessary for the appearance of a living organism. As a side note, there are multiple reasons why peanut butter can last, without refrigeration, for about a year. Two of the main ones are, extremely low moisture content (around 2%) and very high oil content.

Calendar vs Geological Age: The year, 2012, is actually the year 2012 CE (or AD according to some Christians). CE refers to the "Common Era". The Gregorian calendar (which is the calendar used by the majority of western society) beaks the recording of time into two halves, CE (Christian AD) and BCE (Christian BC). The point at which these two halves meet can be imagined as a "zero" point on a timeline. Both CE and BCE continue indefinitely in either direction, increasing as they move further from the "zero" point. So, while we are only at 2012 to the CE side of the zero point, the earth's geological age actually extends out past 4 billion on the BCE side of the zero point.

Making Man out of Dirt: It might happen but the odds are so exceptionally small that you are far more likely to be struck by lighting, bitten by a shark, and hit by a meteorite at the same. However, even if it did occur, there is no scientific evidence that links modern humans as having come from a pile of sand. Evolutionary theory on the other hand, does an outstanding job of explaining how modern humans came to be and is supported by huge sums of scientific evidence.

Banana-to-Hand Ratio: While the common, super market banana certainly has an intelligent designer, it isn't a mythical being at all. The "common" banana has been selectively bred by humans through artificial selection. Wild bananas look drastically different and lack many of the "perfect" qualities that the banana found in a super market possess.

Big Bang: Nothing about the "big bang" cosmological model claims that the universe arose from nothing. Again, belief that it does shows a basic misunderstanding of modern science.

Grass-o-Minnow: See "Cat-o-Shark" above.

Monkey-Mom: See "Monkey" above.

As a side note, these explanations are all relatively brief and, if holes can be found in them, it shouldn't be too surprising. Each of these answers could easily be expanded to take up several pages of explanation and entire books are dedicated to a few of them. That being said, they should be fairly sufficient as quick answers to relatively simple and uninformed questions.

As always, feel free to post any comments or questions you have below; especially if you found a mistake in one of my answers up above.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Atheism: Some Common Misconceptions

I've posted this before (or at least something similar) but it seems that there is a need for it again, based on comments and messages I have received from people over the last 24 hours or so. Below are responses to various ideas and beliefs I seem to continually have sent my way in response to either being an Atheist or commenting on something posted by a Theist.

  • Beyond the belief that deity(s) do not exist, Atheists do not share a common set of beliefs. Just as with every other group, Atheists have wide ranging views spanning the political, ideological, and philosophical spectrum. 
    Yes, I know that they aren't all Atheists.

  • As an Atheist, I am more than happy to reconsider my current views of deities if I am presented with new evidence contrary to my current understanding. However, an extraordinary claim (of which the existence of a deity is one) requires extraordinary evidence. For example, if you claim that there is a dragon living in your garage, then you had better come to me with better evidence than a charred marshmallow you swear his breath toasted for you last night.


  • Science can not answer all of life's questions (at least not at this point). However, this isn't evidence for the existence of God or any other deity. The inability to understand something is not a justification to insert God (or any other deity) into the gaps.

  •  Atheists, in general, do not "hate" God and I certainly don't. Besides the notion of hating something I don't believe in being a bit ridiculous, I didn't depart from my Christianity and my former belief in God out of anger. I departed from it based on the accumulation of knowledge about a broad range of subjects and the realization that there is no evidence to justify a belief in God (or any other deity).

  • The Theory of Evolution does not explain either the origin of the Universe or the origin of life. These three items are not tied to one another. While they may share common evidence, each of them exists independent of the others.

  • The Theory of the "Big Bang" does not claim that the Universe arose from nothing. The majority of Atheists do not believe that the Universe arouse from nothing. I am perfectly content in acknowledging that I don't know what existed, if anything, before the Big Bang. Again though, not knowing something is not a justification for inserting a deity into the gap. 
    The Theory of the Big Bang explains the current Universe, not what existed before the Big Bang.

  • Even if the Theory of Evolution, Theory of the Big Bang, and various Theories associated with the origin of life were all disproven tomorrow, this would still not necessarily be evidence for a deity. Our understanding of the world around us is continually changing. Evidence contrary to currently held beliefs requires that those beliefs be adjusted based on the new evidence. Where religion ignores evidence that is contrary to beliefs, science embraces evidence contrary to beliefs and adjusts those beliefs accordingly. 

  • There are a number of logical fallacies associated with the argument that someone should "believe in God just to be on the safe side", commonly known as Pascal's Wager. I'm not going to list them all here but, such an argument is flawed for a great many reasons.

  • The "creation narrative" as laid out in The Book of Genesis is incompatible with all modern scientific understanding of how creation of the universe, solar system, earth, life, and speciation took place. Believing that the story is literally true requires ignoring scientific evidence to the contrary from the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, and many others. 

  • Scientists want to disprove theories, including the Theory of Evolution! The quickest way for a young grad student to become world famous and have unlimited access to grant money, for as long as she lives, would be for them to disprove a theory which is part of major public discourse, such as the Theory of Evolution or the Theory of the Big Bang. Scientists, in general, have far more motivation to prove that the current understanding of something is incorrect then they do to lie about something being correct. Nearly every famous scientist in history is famous for one of two reasons: 1) They discovered something new or 2) They disproved a prior understanding of something. Newton is famous for founding Newtonian Physics; Einstein is famous for disproving Newtonian Physics and giving us General Relativity.

I think that covers the big points that I hear most often. If I missed something or you disagree with something, feel free to let me know by commenting below.