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Posts Tagged ‘Skeptic’

Ever the glutton for punishment, I was listening to a sermon not too long ago, and the pastor had these words to say to their congregation:

“What I see in front of me might contradict everything he [Jesus] has said, but I believe in the end he’ll be born out to be true.”

This type of attitude is very disturbing, and in essence says, “Look, you can show me all the evidence you want to, and it can be the most solid evidence ever, and I’m still not going to accept it.” There are few things to be pitied more than a person who says their mind cannot be changed no matter what evidence is provided. Such a person is a prisoner in their own mind, who when handed the key to set themselves free, gouges out their eyes with it lest they find the lock.

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Comedian Andrew Maxwell takes five British creationists to the west coast of America to try to convince them that evolution rather than creationism explains how we all got here. Stuck on a bus across 2,000 miles of dustbowl roads with these passionate believers, Maxwell tackles some firmly held beliefs – could the Earth be only 6,000 years old, and did humans and T-Rex really live side by side? It’s a bumpy ride as he’s confronted with some lively debates along the way, but by the end could he possibly win over any of these believers with what he regards as hard scientific fact? [BBC]

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As promised, I’m following up on my previous blog post where I revealed the first video I’ve produced here at TheSkepticalMagician.com – “Genesis Creation Visualized – Scientifically.”  I put a considerable amount of thought and energy into creating this video, and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look into the reasons why I made it the way I did.

Why re-write Genesis?

A common response one gets when talking to Christians about the origins of the Universe and the lack of specificity and accuracy of the Genesis account — is that the complex laws of physics would have been lost on bronze age peoples, so God had to dumb it down so humans could comprehend all that he had done.  In other words, the divine creator had to be vague, and not quite as accurate because the concepts were not there to explain it fully.  This seems to make a lot of intuitive sense to believers, and it is something that enables them to continue believing what they want to believe, so they don’t take that next crucial step that everyone should take when determining whether or not something they believe is true… They don’t try to prove themselves wrong!  And just like a scientist who submits something for peer review without first trying to disprove their ideas, if they don’t do it — someone else will.  By re-writing the Genesis account as I did (and I could have been far more detailed were it not for my time limits), I was able to show that one could give a scientifically accurate portrayal of the evolution of the Cosmos that a bronze age human could understand, while still maintaining certain poetic liberties.  Had the first 18 verses of Genesis been something similar to what I created, we in present day would have to stop and ask, “How in the heck did these bronze age illiterates know about things like fusion and the forging of the elements within stars?”  “How did they know the Earth orbits the Sun, and how did they know it rolls upon the fabric of space like it does?”  Instead of having to answer difficult questions like these, we’re left with undeniable evidence that the Genesis account of creation is just one more in a long line of creation myths.

Now, I fully admit that the Genesis account as currently written could have happened just like the Bible says, and I say as much in the video.  There is no way for me to disprove this, though I don’t think most Christians would be comfortable with what this would tell us about the creator.  If the Genesis account of the Bible is a literal, historical account of the creation of the Universe, then the creator is a deceiver.  He’s a trickster.  He’s a hoaxer.  In order for the Genesis account to be true, it would mean that creator would have had to intentionally alter time and space itself to make it look like things had occurred completely different than they actually had.  In essence,  that God is one who not only tricks people, but tricks people into not believing in him, or in his written text, which plainly goes against the idea in 2 Peter 3:9 that God is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

A track that many liberal Christians take is that the Genesis account is not a literal history of creation, but that it’s a symbolic or metaphoric account of man’s relationship with his creator etc, etc, etc.  Again, I can’t disprove that either, though I don’t think people who follow that line of thinking consider the greater negative theological implications for the Christian faith later on down the line.  Without a literal Genesis, or a literal Adam and Eve – there is no basis or necessity for a literal 2nd Adam (i.e. Jesus) to undo what they did in Genesis.  For these types, much of the Bible is looked at as metaphorical or symbolic, and these issues aren’t of any great concern to them, and they are happy to believe just the same.  Again, trying to disprove their perspective is a bit like trying to nail jello to a wall, and there are so many ad hoc fallacies, and so much special pleading injected into the conversation that one can find themselves quickly frustrated.  In general, these types of believers aren’t usually trying to get Biblical creation crammed into science classrooms, and are often times just as against their fundamentalist brethren in that regard as secularists are.  So while I don’t agree with their conclusions, and can no more disprove their claims than I can disprove Russell’s teapot, I can at least respect their ability to accept the clear evidence of origins instead of dogmatically clinging to ideas that are either false (my position), or the product of an omnipotent trickster. (more…)

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And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for — I give you the first video production for TheSkepticalMagician.com…

Blog post to follow in the next couple of days talking about what went into the making.  Enjoy!

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Brian introduces us to his new best friend — and his hobby. 

 

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An article popped up in my Facebook feed from Forbes Magazine this week concerning the use of multivitamins and supplements, and how their use can actually shorten your life.  Having people in my family that are huge into vitamins and supplements, I was eager to see what the results of the studies by Jaakko Mursu and colleagues had to say.

I was very impressed by the sample size for both of the studies which followed 38,772 women for 25 years, and 35,533 men for 10 years in a study by Eric Klein and colleagues.  The news isn’t really anything new — vitamins and supplements for the most part do not improve health at all, and can actually make your health worse by killing you quicker, rather than prolonging your life.  The only supplement that seemed to have mixed results was calcium.

Some people say, “But my vitamins give me so much energy and strength.  I could never live without my vitamins and supplements.”  These people are experiencing what is known as a placebo effect, where even though the vitamins and supplements are having no effect, or a negative effect on their overall health — their perception is that of benefit.  The short and entertaining video below will give you a good perspective on the power of placebo.

So, if vitamins and supplements can kill us faster, what should we do?  Eat a well balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, and get a healthy amount of physical exercise.  Your body will love you for it, and you won’t have to waste your money on pills that will only kill you faster.

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If you haven’t yet seen Greta Christina’s talk “Why Are Atheists So Angry,”  it’s well worth a watch, and you can see it delivered below in this video from Skepticon IV.  I haven’t had a chance to read her book on the same subject yet, but you can pick up your copy of Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless at Amazon.com.

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