Happy Holidays to you and yours by the way, whatever time of the year you happen upon this little blog post. Maybe it’s Arbor Day for you or something. As I’m composing this, it’s a few days shy of the winter solstice and a new year, so naturally that’s what’s on my mind, at least partly. This time of year is all about belief, right? I’ve noticed a common rallying cry among believers this time of year is to defend against this War On Christmas. Apparently nonbelievers such as myself are trying to destroy Xmas by removing “Christ” from it. I don’t have to do that. He never showed up, so there’s nothing to remove. However, I love this time of year. People are usually nicer to each other. People go out of their way to pretty up their surroundings with garlands and tinsel. Platitudes like “peace and good will to all” feel like they actually mean something briefly. I enjoy Christmas music, I love the food.. why would a nonbeliever want to crash Christmas?
When I look a Believer who I personally know in the eye, it’s different from talking to strangers over the Internet. I have friends and family that I love dearly. Some of them are Believers. Some of them are not. In recent years I just kinda try not to delve into politics and religion with them even if we agree, because it will put a wedge between us, and it has sometimes, but no two people are going to agree with each other on anything. If you’ve ever heard friends argue over sports statistics, you know exactly what I mean. I like to imagine that it’s generally understood when I call Belief fanciful or question the intelligence of a Believer, it’s with the following phrase uttered almost in the same breath: “present company accepted, of course.” I know the moderately believing person I love isn’t like all those hateful fundamental extremists that picket funerals or murder abortion doctors.. Okay, I don’t, but I love them and so I make that exception anyway, even if the evidence doesn’t back up the sentiment. This is not faith at work. It’s that I enjoy the companionship of loved ones and don’t wanna ruin it. I’m probably not all that good at conveying this day in day out, and intent doesn’t always shine through by example, but hopefully you understand what I’m driving at.
There’s problems with this approach though. It’s unfair and unruly in practice. If a Believer shares a belief system with others that exemplify behavior unbecoming or even downright hateful and violent, how can I not judge that belief system on the actions and merits of all its participants? I’m reminded of Richard Pryor in Superman III looking at Christopher Reeve and going, “I’m not WITH them, Superman!” when clearly, HE IS. If you’ve seen Superman III though, you can understand what Pryor’s character was driving at. Essentially Richard Pryor’s character was an embezzler, and even then only because he found a way to do it where he thought he wouldn’t get caught. Sure he’d done some questionable, white-collar-thiefy things, but he wasn’t a major supervillain hellbent on taking over the world. THAT’s DIFFERENT! So when I look at a friend or a loved one or even a nice person on the Internet who I’m having a cordial conversation with about how their god isn’t real, I feel kinda like Superman looking at Richard Pryor in that movie. I mean he’s standing alongside crazy people, but he’s Richard Pryor. I LOVE Richard Pryor! How bad could he possibly be? I’m hard-pressed NOT to compare my closest believer friends and what they believe with terrorists on a holy Jihad murdering thousands and demanding the world bow down to their archaic laws and dogma. I mean, they are using the same Abrahamic texts to validate their claims. One thing both moderate Believers and extremists have in common, they can’t prove their beliefs outside The Word of God.
I recently read Science Upholds Creation by Harun Yahya and wanted to punch my monitor screen. It is so blatant in its failure to prove what it claims, and yet doing so only brings attention to it. I hesitate even to link to it because doing so could only increase its exposure, but this is indicative of what I’m trying to hammer out here in my own blog post. The premise of the article is obvious. Harun Yahya claims to be able to prove that science is on his side and does not favor evolution. This is in the face of tons of evidence that actually does support evolution and not creation. There’s the fossil record, radiometric dating, genetics, AND MORE! That’s just in regards to evolution. Why are we still having this argument? Well I know why we’re still having this argument. It is perhaps best summed up by Michael Shermer who observed, “No single discovery from any of these fields denotes proof of evolution, but together they reveal that life evolved in a certain sequence by a particular process.” What this means is, there are gaps in our knowledge, and there always will be. We can’t prove beyond the shadow of a doubt exactly how the universe was created, or how human beings got here. However, even though we can’t possibly find every single generation of mankind’s progress in the fossil record, what we do have points AWAY from this fanciful idea that one day a god came along and TWANG Adam crawled directly out of a mound of clay. Then TWANG a god poked Adam in the side and made an Eve out of Adam’s rib. The evidence suggests a far more gradual process which took billions of years in which amino acids formed into proteins which formed into single cell organisms which formed into multi cell organisms which formed into marine life and them amphibians and then reptiles and marsupials and mammals and eventually Jennifer Lawrence. Yahya and other creationists insist that because we don’t know HOW this happened, there must have been a god (more specifically HIS god) going TWANG all over everything.
Believers often get evolution mixed up with abiogenesis. Heck, I do this all the time myself and I’m supposed to know the difference, but it’s easy when arguing about the existence of mankind or the existence of the universe, to drift from one topic to another, as if one would prove the other when they would not. We have archaeological discoveries that show the universe is far older than a few thousand years, unlike what “scientificy” young earth creationists claim. Astrophysics observes it’s taken billions of years for the universe to be what it is today, and that it arrived at this point gradually without any noticeable external influence, be it physical or metaphysical. A god would have to have intentionally covered his tracks every time he made changes to the universe, if in fact one was doing so. Even then, it’d be like when a thief intentionally wears gloves or wipes the place of fingerprints before he leaves. There is no Perfect Crime, even for a perfect being. If this universe was made, it would look differently than it does, yet we observe objectively that it wasn’t made. The universe looks like its gotten here on its own steam.
It was never made in seven days. Common sense dictates in order for God to have days in which to measure his progress, he needed more than just light and dark, yet according to the bible, God didn’t get around to making the sun and moon until DAY FOUR! I’m just scratching the surface here on just how much evidence we have that dismisses the presumption of a Creator. And yet Harun Yahya and countless others like him insist science dismisses evolution in favor of creation. How does he do this? That’s the beauty of it. If you bother to read the article, which I don’t recommend but you are free to do so, he spends several paragraphs intentionally not proving his point.
Yahya cites that attempts under laboratory conditions have failed to magically create matter. Scientists replicate conditions they feel existed at the dawn of life here on Earth, and they failed to turn a pot of boiling guck into Albert Einstein. This, Yahya insists, proves that his god must have done it. This completely fails to understand what science actually is. Failures are learning opportunities. Just because mankind hasn’t figured it out yet doesn’t mean it’s not possible. And even if it is humanly impossible, that doesn’t mean a god did it, and even if we learn a Creator or “Catalyst” must have been involved, that doesn’t automatically mean it was the Abrahamic god as described in old dusty books written by human beings several centuries ago. We don’t jump to conclusions in science. One experimental failure doesn’t automatically mean gods any more than it automatically means angels or ghosts or aliens or bigfoot. However, all religion has to do is boldly make a claim, and thousands if not millions of people blindly follow it, because faith does not require truth in order to operate. In fact, facts often belie truth, so truth then turns around and demonizes whatever disagrees with it, or makes Believers feel stupid.
Poe’s Law, an arguably unscientific (well i guess sociologically it may apply) observation of the universe, goes something like this, “Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” I argue that even with blatant displays of humor, it doesn’t work. This Christmas season will go down in obscure history as the one in which FOX NEWS personality Megyn Kelly announced to the world that Jesus and Santa are white and that this is factual and not to be disputed. Then a day later she got back up on her lofty perch and said she was only kidding, while in the same breath repeating her mantra that Jesus and Santa are white but it’s no big deal and people really shouldn’t poke fun at FOX news cuz this is serious shit they’re doing. Jon Stewart and all the late night comedians had a field day with this. David Letterman probably took it as a personal holiday gift from Megyn Kelly. I bet he sent her a dozen roses as a thank you in return. I can’t prove that. I just imagine he would. He’s that kinda guy.
But let’s look at this again, shall we? Megyn Kelly made a claim that she could not prove, claimed she could prove this claim, and then a day later she was like, “I’m only kidding!” Only, evidently she was not. In order for something to be funny, it has to illicit laughter, and okay it did, but obviously not in the way Kelly intended. In context, she was making a point to discourage the news report that had just aired on FOX not seconds before she made her little statement. So it’s easy to “mistake for the real thing” here. Was she making fun of the news reporter who insisted Santa Claus shouldn’t be depicted as white all the time because there ARE children in this world who are decidedly NOT white and Christmas should be for THEM too? Was Kelly trying to make fun of that? Or was she poking fun at herself and other people who believe being white is the favored, chosen by god way to be, and minorities should just accept that? I don’t think Megyn Kelly even thought through this before opening her mouth. Most people don’t. Most people don’t really think about what they believe. They just believe it. They only bother to look in the proverbial mirror of their own faith when reality kinda forces them to for whatever reason. I rather imagine Megyn Kelly had to do a little of that in the days after she said “Santa’s just white.. and so is Jesus.” Let’s be clear. It’s not the only controversial non “newsy” thing that FOX News has ever put out there, but it’s Christmas so when someone makes a decidedly uncompromising statement like “Santa is white and so is Jesus so you kids don’t listen to us grownups arguing about it,” well.. is she being a moderate believer here, or an extremist? Is she just Richard Pryor in Superman III, or is she (and Faux Snooze) trying to take over the world?
I honestly can’t tell anymore, and if I still believed in belief, I wouldn’t know what to believe.