There is a reason why they hated Christopher Hitchens

And this is it:

The people who could learn the most from this, will not watch it. Hence presuppositionalists.

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Will any Christians accept my Science Sunday challenge?

The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is perfectly simple. If you agree to watch the series of video clips below, instead of going to Church this Sunday, I will attend my local Baptist church, and report back on the overall experience:

Google Maps

I will listen to what the Pastor has to say and you will report back (in the comments) on what you learned from the below videos and links.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from either cheating and not watching all the clips from start to finish, or indeed just watching them now and still go to church as well. But that defeats the object. You have to watch the clips on Sunday, instead of going to church as usual.

Let me know if you plan on going ahead with this, so I can make arrangements with the church ahead of time, to film parts of the service. You’ve got the easy job. All you have to do is sit on your arse and learn something interesting about how we think the universe really works. I have to get my suit dry cleaned and bite my tongue when the collection plate gets passed around.

Here are the videos I would like you to watch. If you want to take part in the experiment, please don’t watch them yet. Instead leave a comment below stating the date of the next Sunday service you won’t be attending and I’ll arrange to go to church on that date in your stead.

This first one explains the smallest unit of measurement currently available to physicists, the Planck length. It’s important to pay attention to some of the stuff they refer to in passing towards the end of this clip, because it comes up again in the following video.

This next clip is rather long and some of you are going to instantly dislike it, because it was given at an atheist convention and it’s introduced by Richard Dawkins. Pay no heed to that and listen, instead, to what the nice man is saying about ‘A Universe from Nothing’. The often repeated phrase, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” finds it origins in certain aspects of the Big Bang theory, which propose that fluctuations in the Quantum Field probably caused our universe to come into existence. Lawrence Krauss explains what cosmologists mean by ‘nothing’ in this context.

If atoms are mostly made up of empty space, why don’t we fall through the floor? Sounds like a ridiculous question, does’t it? Things interact with other things because they are solid. But what do we mean by solid? The Pauli exclusion principle explains that no two electrons in the universe can occupy the same energy levels. But since we put energy into something every time we interact with it, every electron in the universe must therefore adjust itself, somehow, to occupy a slightly different energy level. We are therefore, literally, connected to everything else in the universe. The fact that we can prove this is true, not only explains why there is incredible beauty in physics, but to my mind makes it somewhat more believable than talking snakes and magic wine.

Finally another clip from Sixty Symbols, only this time on the Higgs Boson and understanding the difference between photons (fluctuations in the electromagnetic field) and the field itself.

Now, what’s the point of this? Well, it’s a little experiment. See, I think I know what any Christian willing to take part in this little challenge is going to say, no matter what they might learn from the above videos, and I think I know what they’re going to say about my attending a church service too.

So as not to influence the outcome (every experiment needs a control) I’ve taken a date stamped screen shot of a text document and email, written before publishing this blog entry, with some suggestions as to what the possible replies to this challenge might be. This will be published after the results are in.

So as to rule out any tampering or editing, I’ve sent a copy of the text document containing my predictions to Richard Morgan, a Christian friend of mine from the Fundamentally Flawed Podcast, who will vouchsafe that I did indeed write out my predictions, before clicking “Send” on this article and, therefore, before reading any comments posted below.

How to take part:

If you’re a Christian and you want to send an atheist to church, leave a comment below stating the date of the next Sunday service you won’t be attending so as to instead watch the above video clips and write a review of them in the comments below. When I get back from the church service I will post a full account of the experience and publish my predictions on what you might say in response.

Here is a screen shot of the email to Richard, containing my predictions on your responses, which was sent BEFORE this article was published. Good luck!

Note that the timestamp in the top right corner is before the publication time of this article.

I am publishing this article at: 22:55 and 20 seconds on the 8th of Jan 2012

The email to Richard was sent at:

Axial precession and the cosmological constant

According to God hating, atheistic, evolutionistsic, old earth “scientists”, every 26,000 years the earth completes a rotational circuit caused by its spin. They say that “proof” of this can be demonstrated by observing the fact that the planet is not a perfectly uniform sphere; that it bulges at the equator and narrows slightly at the poles. They call the wobble which causes the earth to gradually tilt “axial precession” (oh how these Jesus denying heathens love using important sounding words to deny the truth of the bible).

Listen to these so-called boffins stumble their way through pretending they understand how this happens, with their made up “equations”, repeated empirical “observations” and arithmetic “logic”:

You see how they just assume the earth isn’t perfectly round? See how they try and plant false information into the minds of CHILDREN about how The Father is incapable of doing anything right? See how blatant they are about not including the FACT that God caused this to happen on purpose, so we could all enjoy the changing seasons? Maybe they’ve never heard of winter and summer? Who knows?

What we do know is that, clearly, these people are insane! Not to mention the FACT that anyone with half a brain cell knows the earth is only 6000 years old at the most, it is also a FACT that if any of this were true, Jesus of Nazareth would have known about it. Since there’s no mention of this in the one true book He wrote after He died FOR YOUR SINS, it must therefore be FALSE!

Notice the part in the video, where they say that the first accurate measurement of the earth’s wobble were made by Hipparchus, in about 150 BC? What they’re forgetting is that Yahweh (not Allah, Zeus, Mazda or Mithras mind you, just Yahweh) planted the evidence of the Greek astronomer’s work (and the independent references to his work by Aratus, Ptolemy, Pappus of Alexandria, Theon of Alexandria and Pliny the Elder) into the history books to test our faith in Him. IT’S THE ONLY LOGICALLY VALID CONCLUSION YOU CAN COME TO!! Unless, of course, these brainiacs are seriously suggesting Hipparchus wrote quantitative and accurate models for the motion of the Sun and Moon hundreds of years before the earth was even created? Pfft! Atheists 0, Creationists 1.

Not content with proving in their own words that they HATE JESUS, here is another video with proof that they also worship false idols!!! Liverpudlian idols!!!!! Pop musicians, if you please!!!!!!! Long haired, “peace and love” hippy liberal musicians from some English pop band called The Beetles (in the original article it was actually spelled “Beatles” LOL! Their mouths are so full of lies they can’t even spell correctley!)

Watch, as they try to worm their way out of explaining the problem of the cosmological constant (proof that the universe was created by Yahweh) without honouring their Lord and saviour for His handy work:

Define the word atheist

Twitter user @PiltdownSupermn asked for a definition of the word atheist. I would have posted the below reply to his blog, but I am making it available here instead because there is a post length limit on blogspot.com comments.

http://stormbringer005.blogspot.com/2011/07/voulez-vous-definir-latheisme-sil-vous.html

An atheist is someone who does not accept the truth claims of any religion, on the grounds that many of them are self-refuting.  This is not, repeat NOT, a claim to know for a fact that there are no gods, merely it is the factual assertion that the truth claims made by the religious, which assert there is a God, are without any basis in fact.

Many apologists use the dictionary definition of the word ‘atheist’, as it is commonly understood to mean, as someone who does not believe in the God of the bible. But the word in fact refers to an active disbelief in all theology from all religions, not merely a disbelief in that which might be described independently of any particular religious truth claim.  This confusion is understandable and has plagued the debate between the religious and non-religious for many decades—hence the accusation on all sides of “playing semantics”.  

To be clear: An atheist is anyone who does not believe there is any evidence of a particular God or gods. By way of example, consider that no Christian believes in the existence of Allah, or Zeus.  They refute the theology of Islam and Greek mythology for the same reason they refute the truth claims of Scientology and Mormonism.  Not believing in the existence of a particular god, by definition, makes you an atheist—that is to say you reject the theology of religion X, hence you are a-theist towards X.

Anyone who argues in favour of a particular religious truth claim, automatically argues against the contradictory truth claims of another religion to which he does not belong.

An individual may base his or her rejection of a particular religious truth claim on the understanding that it is proven by scientific logic to be a false declaration.  But there is nothing inherently “atheistic” about science, per-se.

However, it is repeatedly asserted, by those on the right of this debate, that the atheist has merely swapped a belief in a particular god, for a belief in a particular scientific theory and is therefore as religiously motivated to disprove God as theists and deists are to prove a God exists.  But this is precisely the opposite of how a free thinking individual arrives at knowledge about a particular area of interest—and explaining this fundamental difference in how we know what we know, to certain kinds of religious, is by far and away the least explored aspect to this on-going conversation.

It has its roots in understanding how the religious see the world; which, broadly speaking, says that the profundity of nature is something to be revealed to us, in stages, by an understanding of previously accepted wisdom.  They automatically assume the worldview of the non-religious is also informed in this way; that they seed to the authority of science, in the same way the religious seed to the authority of the church—as if one is interchangeable with the other.

But the major difference between the authority of science and the authority of the church, is that the former is constantly adjusting and shifting its view based upon new evidence, whereas the latter assumes a given set of beliefs are beyond question, whilst simultaneously asserting that anything which challenges that assumption must be presumed incorrect—no matter how compelling the contrary evidence may be. 

Presuppositional Christian apologetics claims that this is a valid position, because human experiences of the numinous, such as love and compassion, cannot be explained by observing the laws of the universe; that physics, biology and chemistry are merely an outline of the mechanics God used to shape the universe, in the beginning, but are insufficient in understanding why or how God chose to do so.

But the fundamental flaw with this idea, is that it relies upon it’s own argument to prove it’s own argument; an infinite loop, known in philosophy as ‘the vicious problem of infinite regress’—referred to in common parlance as ‘circular logic’, e.g., “the bible is true because it says so in the bible” or “creationism is a science, because creationists say it is” and “God exists because you cannot prove he doesn’t”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Münchhausen_Trilemma

This stands in contrast to the falsifiability principal, which states that something can only be accepted as true if a method can be identified which might prove it is false. In other words, for something to be shown to have a basis in fact, it must demonstrate a mechanism by which it could be proven false. If you cannot layout a set of principals by which something could be proven false, you cannot assume it is therefore true—because you have not defined the boundaries by which something is described.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Popper

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

Simply appealing to “that which is without a beginning or end” as a description of God, by definition, places God beyond empirical observation and therefore makes an unfalsifiable statement about His existence. This is acknowledge by every Christian apologist worth reading, many of whom, in an attempt to adjust their own demonstrably false position, go on to make the argument that He must therefore be the arbiter of absolute morality—the inner voice which knows the difference between right and wrong—which, ironically, makes the perfect argument in favour of humanism and against their previously stated position.

All the world’s fossils are in the wrong place, apparently

Twitter creationist @PiltdownSupermn posted this article to his blog, but neglected to enable the comments section. http://www.piltdownsuperman.com/2011/07/pesky-fossils-hostile-to-evolution.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+piltdownsuperman%2FwtCR+%28Evolutionary+Truth+by+Piltdown+Superman%29

So I’ve pinged back to the original posting here and included my reply below:

This is by far and away the most common misconception about evolution theory. Indeed it is so common, the fact that it has been explained over and over again also stands as the best example of how disinterested those who make it are, in understanding why it is the exact opposite of a killer blow against evolution, which they nevertheless insist it is.

Firstly, it’s important to state, that if Darwin’s original theory had never existed and—indeed—nothing at all was known about fossils, the entirely separate field of genetics would still prove decent with modification. Let that fact detonate in your brain for a second and consider what it means. You can, literally, forget everything about fossils—ignore them completely—and still demonstrate natural selection, using the mutually corroborative, yet entirely independent evidence of DNA. No dinosaur fossils, no Burgess Shale, no sedimentary deposits—nothing.

You can take radiometric dating and throw it in the bin. You can also throw out every single fossil, dated using this double-redundant method. Every trilobite, every Homo ergaster skull is completely unnecessary. You can bomb every last Natural History Museum in the world, from 35 thousand feet, turning every last exhibit into dust—and the FACT would still remain, that every single strand of Deoxyribonucleic Acid, inside every cell of every living creature on the planet, would still contain enough evidence of natural selection, to prove the theory of evolution—INDEPENDENT of the (now demolished) fossil record.

Despite this, the so-called “problems with the fossil record” remain at the heart of the creationist conspiracy. So to address directly this false notion that there are “fossils in the wrong place”, let us consider why the explanation for why this is continually aired by creationists, who openly admit to having no understanding the vast time scales involved in producing fossils to begin with.

We live on a ball of molten lava, with a dry crust of rubble cooling on the surface. The movement of this surface on the slippery, violent core underneath, causes huge sections of this crust to grind against each other. We call this plate tectonics. When these plates crunch and grind, enormous pressures build up, which are eventually released causing earthquakes and volcanos. This results in giant sections of the earth’s crust being lifted up and split. Plates which once joined together are then separated and over millions of years, as they are forced apart.

The plant and animal debris, crushed under these enormous pressures, over millions of years, become liquefied. We are currently digging up this black soup and using it to cook food, drive cars, send men into space and justify the invasion of countries with names Republicans can’t pronounce or point to on a map.

The ‘younger’ plant and animal debris, still trapped in the upper layer of the crust and exposed on the surface, or on the ocean floor, represents less than 1% of the material we have any chance of studying. The rarity of material which would eventually become fossilised is enormous. The huge time scales and unique biochemical processes which must take place in the creation of a fossil, makes the finds we already have all the more valuable. The fact that we have so many fossils is an incredibly lucky thing. Most of the living creatures which would eventually become extinct, never stood a chance of becoming fossilised.

So it is not surprising we find fossils in unusual places, out of sequence and jumbled around. They have, after all, been lying around on the ocean floor for a few million years, before resurfacing again in areas which, because of plate tectonics, would later become continents and islands—dry bits of the earth’s crust, above sea level, which we call land. Only then are we given a chance to dig them up and study them.

This explanation, corroborated by a vast, almost overwhelming array of evidence, is dismissed by creationists as a convenient fairy story ‘evolutionists’ are afraid to examine or fully admit to. It is asserted, on exactly zero evidence, that this matter of scientific fact, is an elaborate scam which science has foisted upon the world, in order to ignore the biblical creation narrative contained in Genesis. In other cultures it is the creation story contained in their religious texts. Against this kind of non-reasoning, there is no arguing. You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not reasoned themselves into.

So I end with this simple question back to you. What kind of evidence would it take to convince you, that you are wrong? If you do not know the answer to that, nothing else you might say is a valid scientific statement—no matter how much you want it to be. You are asserting a belief, not stating a fact. Believing something and proving something are two completely different things. And whilst you are entitled to believe whatever you wish, you should not expect other people to believe it for the same reasons which have convinced you—especially in the face of evidence you have already demonstrated you do not understand, which proves you are completely wrong.

Grill a Christian radio interview

I haven’t written a serious update to this blog in some time, but it seems from the stats that some of what is archived here still gets read regularly, which is both a good thing and somewhat awkward, in that I don’t have the time I once had to maintain discussion threads in the way I would like.

However it seems there is enough here to attract the attention of its intended audience, as I’ve just had an all too brief chat with Premier Christian Radio for their Grill a Christian podcast. I’m not sure exactly when it will air, but I’ll update this post with a link to the download if / when I find out It will air on Sat 9 July and you can listen at http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable.

It was nice to be invited to speak and share frank opinions, as opposed to the way other programmes of this kind I’ve agreed to be involved with in the past have been conducted.

I think I managed to make a few good points, despite the time constraints, on the evolutionary origins of morality and altruism. After David (sorry I didn’t get his surname) suggested that there is no absolute morality without God (yes that one again) Justin, the show’s host, pointed out that William Lane Craig and Sam Harris had rather longer to discuss these issues than we did, in the debate linked below:

EDIT: I should also point out that because of the limited timed available I wasn’t able to introduce the second part of my question on subjective moral relativism. That is to say, David made an excellent opening rebuttal which would have segued nicely into this area, but it would have eaten into other questioners time for me to respond fully.

However, Justin, the show’s host, has suggested we pick it up again at some point in the future, so if you’re reading this after the 9th of July airing of the programme and have some comments to make, please feel free to do so and rest-assured if we are able to chat at greater length again in the future we’ll hopefully explore this further.

Here’s some links for the Premier Christian Radio podcast:

Show-notes: http://www.premier.org.uk/search.aspx?page=1&q=grill+a+christian

RSS Feed: feed://ondemand.premier.org.uk/unbelievable/AudioFeed.aspx