No Apologies, Chapter 6

I find it interesting that one of the best logical argument against god is over 2300 years old:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” — ‘the Epicurean paradox’.[

To be honest, it can be argued that God wants free will.  But, lets reword this with free will, and see if it makes sense.

“Is God willing to prevent free will, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is impotent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh free will? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

Just changing two words, and it still makes perfect sense.  Theists use free will as an excuse for evil.  But if God can not prevent free will, why call him God?   The universe acts, in every way, as something that is the result of natural laws.  Miracles never happen.  Free will is never violated.  Cause and effect is never violated.  F=ma always works.  E=mc² always works.  If God can not violate these laws, why call him god?

Let’s reword the Epicurean paradox, once again:

“Is God willing to violate the laws of universe, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he never acts. Is he both able and willing? Then why is there is no evidence of this? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” — ‘the modern Epicurean paradox’.[

I am just a humble engineer and freethinker.  Can someone refute this?

I am not a theologian, or philosopher, but let me state why my worldview makes more sense.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” — ‘the Epicurean paradox’.[

I really don’t think there is something as absolute evil; it is always a relative thing.  When you accept the universe does not care about your existence, the problem of evil is not a problem.  The universe is not evil, it is indifferent, and I am just fine with that.  So much easier than believing in some omnibenevolent god thing.

“Is God willing to prevent free will, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is impotent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh free will? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

Free will may or may not exist.  I accept that I am free as the laws of the universe allow me to be.  I know I have a limited brain, that can not conceive of many things, including large numbers and what came before the universe.  You just can’t.  Your brain can’t.  It is a limit of 1200cc of cholesterol based computer that evolved to survive in a harsh world.  I am fine with that and embrace my limitations.  So, I don’t worry about if we are endowed with free will from the impotent god.  It is most likely an illusion and really doesn’t matter.

“Is God willing to violate the laws of universe, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he never acts. Is he both able and willing? Then why is there is no evidence of this? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” — ‘the modern Epicurean paradox’.[

Since I see a universe that never violates its observed laws, with no evidence of miracles ever happening.  Ever.  When you accept the universe is an indifferent combination of mass, dark matter, and energy that follows some simple rules and has a crap ton of randomness to it, it all makes sense.   Prayer never works, more than random chance will dictate.  No one can walk on water, snakes and donkeys don’t talk, and it all makes sense.

 

 

No Apologies, Chapter 4

No Apologies Chapter 4

15 Questions

In debating, one of the best tools is to try to argue the other side.
In this case, I wanted to understand the thoughts of apologists.
So, in this case, I did a quick Google search and looked for the strongest arguments for the existence of a god. The questions below are from http://geekychristian.com/questions-for-atheists-agnostics/
To test my world view, I decided to try to answer all the questions honestly, with an open mind and see if there are serious holes in my logic and how I understand the world. Lets take a look:

1. Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? And if it is possible that God exists, then can you think of any reason that would keep you from wanting to look at the evidence?
A1. To really answer this question, you need to define what god is. Is it an omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent, all loving “Jesus” type of god that created the universe and watches over every single thing constantly, over all time? Yes, I am absolutely sure a god like that does not and can not exist. It violates so many laws of the universe, such as Heisenberg’s uncertainty and the speed of light, I see no possible way for a god like this to exist in any way. A limited, mortal, hyper-intelligent creatures, sure, that can exist. I have looked for evidence of both of these gods, and found none. I have read the Bible and was not impressed. It is so evidently written by bronze age goat herders that it can not be the word of any god.

2. Would you agree that intelligently designed things call for an intelligent designer of them? If so, then would you agree that evidence for intelligent design in the universe would be evidence for a designer of the universe?
A. Yes, an intelligently designed thing would require a designer. Yes, that would be evidence of the designer of the universe, but the universe contains no such detectable markings.

3. Would you agree that nothing cannot produce something? If so, then if the universe did not exist but then came to exist, wouldn’t this be evidence of a cause beyond the universe?
A3. No, I do not agree with this. Nothing can produce something, such as when the universe began. There is no way to know what existed before, since there was no space-time before, or if there was a universe before this one, all information about that universe is lost. No, there is no cause to the universe. It does not need a cause, it can just be.

4. Would you agree with me that just because we cannot see something with our eyes—such as our mind, gravity, magnetism, the wind—that does not mean it doesn’t exist?
A4. We have more than one sense, sight, so this is a silly question. Sound can not be seen, we hear it. Everything you listed can be detected, except for the mind. You can measure the brain, the mind may not be real.

5. Would you also agree that just because we cannot see God with our eyes does not necessarily mean He doesn’t exist?
A5. Again with the seeing. The problem with god is you can not see, smell, taste, touch, hear, or detect god in any way. For any other object in the universe, this would mean it does not exist. For some reason god is the exception.

6. In the light of the big bang evidence for the origin of the universe, is it more reasonable to believe that no one created something out of nothing or someone created something out of nothing?
A6. No one is poor choice of words, nothing (no thing) is a better explanation than an intelligent creator. If there was creator, it would also need a creator, resulting in an endless loop.

7. Would you agree that something presently exists? If something presently exists, and something cannot come from nothing, then would you also agree that something must have always existed?
A7a. Yes, the universe and everything in it currently exists. A7b. Something can come nothing so I can’t answer your next question and I don’t think your first question leads to your second question.

8. If it takes an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, then would it not also take an intelligent being to produce the equivalent of 1000 sets of an encyclopedia full of information in the first one-celled animal? (Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins acknowledges that “amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1000 Encyclopaedia Britannicas.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: WW. Norton and Co., 1996), 116.)
A8. No it would not. The first organism was not an animal and much simpler than any organism currently in existence. Animals are multicellular organisms, by the way. That is one of the defining characteristics, so whomever wrote this question does not understand what an animal is. Natural selection is a much more reasonable solution. Evolution can cover a lot of ground in 3.5 billion years.

9. If an effect cannot be greater than its cause (since you can’t give what you do not have to give), then does it not make more sense that mind produced matter than that matter produced mind, as atheists say?
A9. This question is based on very flawed assumptions. A affect can be much greater than the cause. The Mona Lisa is made from canvas and paint, yet it is greater than what it is made of. Mind producing matter makes no sense, at all. The mind is defiantly the result of electrochemical reactions in the brain. Mind came from matter.

10. Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a moral law?
A10. How do you define wrong? Morals are a result of society, education, and evolutionary trends. There are no absolute moral laws and morals change over time. If morals were absolute, they would not change with society, but they do, so they are not laws.

11. If every law needs a lawgiver, does it not make sense to say a moral law needs a Moral Lawgiver?
A11. These laws do not exist, so no, you do not need a moral lawgiver.

12. Would you agree that if it took intelligence to make a model universe in a science lab, then it took super-intelligence to make the real universe?
A12. Yes, it would take an intelligent agent to create a model. The universe is not a model and does not require a creator. It just is. Models are representations, a globe is a model of the Earth, not the Earth. We do not live in a model universe, or on a model planet.

13. Would you agree that it takes a cause to make a small glass ball found in the woods? And would you agree that making the ball larger does not eliminate the need for a cause? If so, then doesn’t the biggest ball of all (the whole universe) need a cause?
A13. A small glass ball requires a cause, or any size ball for that matter. This is how the universe currently works. The universe is not a ball, nor does it need an initial cause and causality did not exist before space-time.

14. If there is a cause beyond the whole finite (limited) universe, would not this cause have to be beyond the finite, namely, non-finite or infinite?
A14. There is no cause for the finite universe. There is no need for the infinite or external cause. The universe does not need meaning or a cause.

15. In the light of the anthropic principle (that the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception), wouldn’t it make sense to say there was an intelligent being who preplanned human life?
A15. The universe is not fine tuned for us. We are fine tuned for the universe. Fish are fine tuned to live in the water, birds are fine tuned for the air. The cells in our body are made of atoms that are abundant on the surface of this planet. There is no reason you could not have a silicon/methane based life form. Was the universe fine tuned for them as well? It makes no sense at all the universe is fined tuned, just for us, and existed for over 13.7 billion years, just for us, and just one planet, orbiting around one of 100 octillion stars. As a ratio, that is 1:100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of the universe is fined tuned, just for us, from the very beginning. Really? I can’t believe that at all.

To be honest, I was actually pretty disturbed how easy it was to answer all of these questions using a material world-view. All these questions did was strengthen my conclusion that god does not exist, nor has ever existed. I am also stumped on how I could defend the view that an infinite creator exists. It defies logic and what we know about the universe. Without a self referencing holy scripture, you really have no other evidence to support the claims of theists. I have read other ‘proofs’ of a god, but they are comically weaker than the questions above. The goofy moral ‘laws’ question pops up in apologetics all the time. Other than some of the hard wired rules that have kept us alive as social apes, there are not absolute moral laws. Even something as immoral as killing another human is moral in times of war. Avoiding doing harm to others and helping each other was a necessary trait with social apes and we would not be where we are without these evolved traits. In other chapters I examine some of these topics more deeply.

No Apologies, Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Intelligent Design, a perspective from an Intelligent Designer

Not sure where to put this in the narrative, but here it is.

Professionally, I am a test engineer. What does that mean? I design and program automated test systems. To one of the automated test systems, I am the Intelligent Designer. I have read the arguments in favor and against intelligent design, but I have not really read a good engineer’s perspective on Intelligent Design and Creationism. I have been an engineer for almost two decades, and have designed dozens of test systems. I drew the schematics, written the software, built the systems, qualified the systems, and maintained the systems. These systems have tested, and continue to test, millions of parts per year. I am god to these test systems. I am the Creator. I know good engineering practices and I have seen poor engineering practices. I am also have a lifelong interest in biology, and was tempted to pursue a career in biology. In the end, engineering is a lot more practical, so I went that route. As another aside, I am also a novice watchmaker as well. Why does this aside matter? The analogy for the watch found in a field as an example of finding design in nature is a common one. I will begin with the watch analogy, then move on to systems that I have personally designed and compare them to evolved organisms.

A justification of “Intelligent Design” is that when looking at organisms, the signs of an creator is obvious, like finding a watch in a field and the fact it was intelligently designed. Well, this falls apart on many counts.

A watch is what as known as a monolithic design. That is, each of the components of a watch are made of a single material and serve a single purpose. For a mechanical watch, most of the moving components are made of brass or nickel. Multicellular organisms are, by definition, composed of many cells. Each cell is, in a way, a single celled organism and is able to live, for a short time, as an independent organism. Stem cells resemble single celled organisms. A stem cell can then develop into a specialized cell. A watch part, say a balance wheel, is made of atoms of an alloy of iron, nickel, and other metals. It is not made of tiny little balance wheels. This is true of all the parts of a watch. The watch dial is not made of tiny little watch dials. The parts are also not interchangeable. They serve one function, and that is it. Why are multicellular organisms this way? Evolution is simple, easy to understand explanation. The first life on earth was a simple blob surrounded with a Phospholipid cell membrane containing some free floating RNA, that can self replicate. With evolution, once a workable solution is found, keeps what works and just adds on or improves on the basic design. In this case, single cells work. Just take that cell and form a colony. Not a true multicellular organism, but it not a great leap from a colony to a multicellular organism, with specialized cells. The slime mold is the link between single celled and multicellular organisms. We retain the heritage of evolving from single celled organisms, colonies, slime mold like organisms, and everything between. But, we need to get back to that watch.

A watch, as an intelligently designed machine, does not retain it’s simple heritage. Take an LCD, digital watch. The only features it retains with traditional mechanical watches is the overall shape and function. It does not contain gears, springs, or even the dial or hands of the watches of 40 years ago. It was designed, from a blank page. Evolution does not do this. Evolution adapts existing structures. A watchmaker does not have to use existing designs. An intelligent designer for living things would not need to slavishly adhere to this. Why would you retain all the features of a fish in a creature that is created in the image of a god? Why would an engineer that can create life from scratch not make us any different from the other great apes? It wouldn’t. If you want a god like creature, don’t make it a great ape. To drive deeper, if you are human, you are also an Eukaryotic, Animal, Chordate, Vertebrate, Mammal, Primate, Haplorhini (apes). Other than sounding fancy, what do all of these terms mean?

Eukaryotic: Having cells which have their DNA in a discreet nucleus.

Animal: Any multicellular organism that can move at some time in their lives and are heterotrophs, which is, to live you need to ingest other organisms to survive.

Chordate/Vertebrate: Have a dorsal nerve cord, and a backbone.

Mammal: Warm blooded, haired, and have mammary glands.

Primate: All have forward looking eyes, large brains compared to other mammals, poor sense of smell, fingernails instead of claws, and very mobile shoulders.

Ape: Tailless primate, more mobile shoulder.

Different types of watches share very few features. They all tell time. They can be based on completely different technology. They can be mechanical, based on balance wheels, tuning fork, quartz crystal, tri synchro regulator, or radio receiver. The cases can be made of steel, aluminum, ceramic, titanium, brass, plastic, and even wood. A watch is a designed artifact. The watchmaker can choose any material, within reason. Evolution has no such luxury. If you are human, you share characteristics and DNA of every Eukaryotic, Animal, Chordate, Vertebrate, Mammal, Primate, Haplorhini (apes). As an engineer, moving from one generation of test stand to another, I had the freedom to re-use parts that work, or just trash the whole design and move on. Same function, all new parts. You never see this in nature, ever. Evolution does not work that way. Everything is built upon something else. This can easily be seen with embryos. We all start out as a single cell, then look a lot like everything we descended from, complete with tail, fur, gill arches, and starting out as nothing more than a tube like creature. Compare this to a watch. To build a watch, you do not start with John Harrison’s marine chronometer (mechanical watches are based on this technology from the 1700’s) and keep whittling away and modifying the parts until you get a modern watch, like an Omega Speedmaster. For car buffs, you don’t build a Ford Model T, then modify it to become a 2015 Mustang. But, that is what evolution has to do. An intelligent design would not require this.

Another issue is the schematics for intelligently designed machines and DNA. Human DNA contains a lot of not coding portions, somewhere between 80 to 97% junk. Ask any engineer how much non coding information is contained in a technical schematics? Very little to none. As a human, fallible, intelligent designer, my schematics contain almost completely useful information. To draw schematics like how DNA works, it would be like creating 100 pages of schematic drawings, but only putting about 3 pages of useful information, randomly scattered in those pages. You have to include every revision, napkin sketch, doodle, dirty joke, and comment ever made on the schematic. God is a poor engineer and would never make it past the first year of engineering school.

If a real, mortal, limited human can design something more efficiently than a god can, it says a lot about that theoretical god.

No Apologies, Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Bigfoot and a Lost God

In highschool, many of us rebel and start to question everything. I was no exception. I don’t know if it is hormones or just a cultural thing or a combination, but how I viewed the world changed. I became sceptical about just about everything. I used to believe in extraterrestrial UFO’s, ghosts, bigfoot, heck, God, even the Loch Ness monster. There were two parts to this transformation:

This a time of adolescence and puberty. Your brain and mind changes significantly during your teen years.1 It is the transformation of changing your viewpoint of the world from a child view to an adult view. As a 41 year old adult, I recognize that much of who I was as a child is still there, but, just as with the general trend of evolution adding new parts to old, my mind is an overlay of an adult mind over my child mind. Heck, even the people who wrote the Bible said it well and recognized this universal truth:

1 Corinthians 13:11, NIV translation

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. “

This, ironically, is how I feel about UFO’s, bigfoot, ghosts, and god(s). As as child, I believed, but as an adult, I put aside childhood things. In this case; belief in an invisible, unknowable, undetectable entity that had nothing to do with start of the universe, the origin and evolution of life on earth, the origin of the earth. With how much we know about the origin of the universe, earth, life, and evolution, the concept of a universal creator god is just plain childish. I will detail why it is a childish and simple concept later.

The second change element was my first biology class in highschool and the book Cosmos. I went to a public high school, and they teach actual science in schools. They was a one sentence acknowledgment of ancient beliefs and the idea that the world was created by a creator god. It then immediately went into abiogenesis, including the Miller experiments and accepted, at this point in 1989, we do not know exactly how life started, but we know it did and approximately when. The biology book then moved onto how organisms work and how evolution works. I remember keeping fruit flies and seeing how variation works and was even able to breed characteristics (like red eyes) and see in just a few weeks how artificial selection, and by proxy, natural selection works. It works. You can try it yourself. It requires no faith or belief. It just works, every time. That is when I decided the whole childish concept of a biblical god was just place keeper until science finds out the real answer.

This loss of belief in a god soon spread to all the pseudoscience for me. Bigfoot? Improbable. Ghosts? Impossible. Extraterrestrial aliens visiting earth in flying saucers? Umm, yeah, next to impossible. These world starting making sense. Why is there ‘evil’? Well, the universe just does not care. What is my transcendental purpose? There is none. Just be the best person you can be and not worry about it. You are an ape, a mammal, a living creature that shares your DNA with all the rest of lif on this planet. It is amazing how much more connected you feel with the world, your fellow humans, and all life on earth. It made me happy, and I did not need any deeper introspection for many years. It is healthy to question your beliefs from time to time. Was I wrong? Could I be wrong? Well, I decided to go and read the Bible, just to set what all the hubbub is about. Wow, that is all I can say. Follow my journey in the next chapter.

1 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201004/adolescence-and-the-problems-puberty

No Apologies Chapter 1

Chapter 1, In The Beginning

For about the first 7 or 8 years of my life, if asked what religion I was, all I responded was with “Christian.” My parents did not bring us to church or were very specific about any kind of firm religious belief. As a side note to anyone wanting to indoctrinate their child into a belief system, really try to do it before 7 years old. Any time after that, especially if they were exposed to a lot of science before the, will result in a life long disbeliever. I don’t fault my parents, not at all in fact, since this allowed me to come up with my own answers.

I think around when I was in the fourth grade, my parents started taking us to a local Lutheran church. I did enjoy the community and the rituals involved. I attended passover, and was even an acolyte. When listening to a sermon, it is pretty easy to believe. However, it was Sunday school that was the problem.

Here I was, a little 9 year old, brought up on watching Nova and Cosmos on PBS, taught about dinosaurs and the very basics of how life evolved on this planet and how old the universe was (as estimated in 1983) faced with the Bible for the very first time. It was a strange book. I innocently asked why it was not in alphabetical order, like a dictionary or encyclopedia. Looking back now, reading it in alphabetical order will make it about the same sense, with the disjointed narrative.

The book of the Bible they were studying during the first class was Genesis. Oh boy. Even my 9 year old mind knew everything in there made no sense at all. Everything from the Earth being center of the universe, the waters from the waters, the stars in the sky put there to denote the seasons. Things I knew were wrong. The came Noah’s Ark. I asked the instructor a simple question: “Where are the Dinosaurs?” I did not get an answer, other than some vague explanation that this was a just a parable or something of that nature. This planted the seed. I will expand upon this in another chapter.

Another shift in my thinking was around the same time when I discovered Santa Claus did not exist. We discovered this by accidentally seeing the wrapped “Santa” presents in my parent’s bedroom closet. In my mind, there was little difference between the two. Both knew if you were naughty or nice, both were magical, both lived forever. In fact, there seems to be a lot more evidence that Santa exists than God. At least I know were Santa is supposed to live, and how all the toys are made. The only real difference is that if you believe in Santa as a grownup, you are considered a little crazy. If you believe in God, you are considered normal, even though they are just as real.

I really did believe in parts of the bible. I believed God was a real thing. Moses was real. Jesus was really the son of God. I continued to believe until I was in high school. My family continued going to Lutheran church. I sang the songs, lit the candles, and read some passages of the bible. My belief was never very deep, but it was real. Then high school hit.

Introduction

No Apologies

I decided to post the book serially as posts.  At this point, I think I will shift my focus a little and provide more reasons why I don’t believe now, as opposed to too much of my journey.

Introduction

This book is the summary of why I made the choice to not believe in a higher power, the supernatural, magic, or anything that violates the laws of this universe. I am an atheist and a skeptic. However, this book it not here to convince you to reject whatever belief you subscribe to; it is a statement of my world-view and how I arrived there.

I have been an atheist my entire adult life and even as a child, I always had some doubt in any kind of higher power. As I have grown older, my non belief has grown deeper. In particular, the blatant falsehoods of western religions have done nothing but solidify this choice. In particular, Apologetics attempt to defend their faith with a literal interpretation of the Holy Bible. This is the origin of the title of this book, No Apologies.

Professionally I am a test engineer. My entire career is based on the ability to measure real things. If it exists, it can be measured. I have, and continue to work in the field, and have measured: temperature, torque, force, density, salinity, relative humidity, pH, velocity, linear and rotary position, air and water pressure, laser intensity, and a myriad of other measurements. If it is real, you can measure it or determine its absence.

Personally I am husband and father. I have been married over a decade and plan to be with my wife until my body ceases to function. She is also a non believer, but I will not presume to know her complete journey. We have a son together. At this point, he knows the concept of a god, but has pretty thoroughly rejected the concept with some surprisingly solid logic. This will be detailed later.

In discussions with others who believe and not believe, I have unintentionally cemented the beliefs or disbeliefs of others, which I think is great. To be intellectually and emotionally honest, everyone should re-examine their belief system.

This is my journey.

David Nelson, May 21, 2015, United States of America.

No Apologies

Welcome to my site, dismantling Christian apologetic arguments, and offering a pragmatic commentary on the Holy Bible.  If I have time in the future, I will tackle other religious worldviews.

First off, what is Christian apologetics?  From the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry it is defined as:

Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith.  Christian Apologetics is something every true believer should be involved in even if it is only a little.

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence,” (1 Peter 3:15).

There are several branches of apologetics, but this is the most common on the United States, so this is what I am most familiar with.