August 30, 2010

Atheists are fond of saying, “Science is the best way of knowing.” and then going on to make excuses as to why science cannot tell us how to make proper moral choices, why humans behave as they do, how to have better marriages, be better parents, develop better political systems, run a proper economy, appreciate beauty, communicate more clearly, or simply have a reason for getting up in the morning. In short, virtually everything necessary to have a successful civilization.

For someone to call this the best way of knowing means someone either doesn’t know what science is, or is unfamiliar with the proper use of the word best.

1 More Brutal Truth About Atheism

August 29, 2010

I had orignally considered posting about the atheism undermining the notion of Free Will as one of the 7 Brutal Truths About Atheism but then it would have made it 8 brutal truths, and that didn’t have the same ring to it. Also, I have posted about this earlier, but I think it should be included as an additional consideration here.

Friday Fun-ness

August 27, 2010

As many of our readers know, here at Wide As the Waters we seek not only to convey truth, but advocate on behalf of the arts and all that is beautiful. We do what we can to encourage interest in fine music, fine literature, and if course the theatrical arts – in particular Shakespeare a playwrite who is all too frequently ignored by the present generation. Part of the reason for this is the mistaken idea by today’s youths that Shakespeare is boring – to them, I would say, ah, you don’t know Hamlet:

B is for Bradbury

August 23, 2010

Some thirty years ago I discovered an inter-dimensional transporter in the center of my grade school library. For me this wormhole was a godsend, because as a lonely bookish kid who had recently lost his father, the world seemed a very dim place. Through this wormhole one could travel to places that ordinary transportation didn’t allow – forward into the far future, back into the prehistoric past, across space to distant worlds filled exotic aliens and fantastical technologies. I was familiar with libraries where I spent as much time as possible reading about science and nature (mostly encyclopedias), but up until that point I had never discovered such an amazing device.

The device had a creator, and his name was Ray Bradbury. The device wasn’t from some futuristic laboratory, but he summoned it deep from within the recesses of his mind and soul. Via its powers he could see what had past, and what was to come.

Because of the device he created I knew that some day we would have wall-sized interactive screens with which would suck up all useful time. I understood long before the first cell phone was marketed that miniature communication devices would become ubiquitous – but that they would have as much power to alienate us as they did to bring us closer together. I knew reality shows would modify our view of crime and the common man. I knew that the constant barrage of music and images and talk and information had the potential to drown out real thought and beauty and creativity which bubbles up from the placid contemplation. I also knew that those in authority could be inclined to distract us with amusements to avoid telling us the truth.

And since I wasn’t caught unawares, since I had been warned by Mr. Bradbury, I am not overwhelmed by the future, which is our present madness – I cherish and protect the lasting elements of my life, my faith, the love and fellowship of family and friends, the hard work of being a thinker and contributor, the right to choose how I will live my life, not by the states dictates, but by the conscience God has given me. For these such gifts I am eternally grateful.

Happy 90th Birthday Ray Bradbury – may you enjoy many more.

7 Brutal Truths About Atheism

August 20, 2010

I have covered a few of these points in my Atheist Contradictions posts, but I wanted to create a comprehensive list of what I considered to be a number of realities that emanate from atheistic belief – brutal realities that are certainly true if atheism is true. In and of themselves these do not disprove atheism, but they do detail the cost of atheist’s beliefs. Most of these truths are acknowledged by various atheists.

  1. Your life has no meaning or purpose
    One obvious conclusion of believing that life and the universe are the result of wholly incidental material interactions is that one’s life has no inherent meaning. There is no reason why an atheist is here – and the atheist’s existence will serve no ultimate purpose. The typical rejoinder amongst atheists is that they can make or find their own meaning, which apparently means they can pretend there is meaning to their lives – but they seem to miss the fact that this is exactly what they criticize the religious of doing. In the final analysis to be an atheist is to either acknowledge that one’s existence does not ultimately matter or to live a life of pretense.
  2. You are an atheist by virtue of when and where you were born
    Atheists like to say this about the religious (in an attempt to reduce religious belief down something we unthinkingly inherit from our parents) but the reality is while people convert to and from various religions all around the world, atheists are by in large concentrated in the more advanced industrial nations. The reason for that is simple – being an atheist really only works for the relatively wealthy and comfortable. Most of the world outside of industrialized countries must endure the harsh realities of life – hunger, disease, violence, shorter lives. This flippant atheist tagline, “There’s probably no God… now stop worrying and enjoy your life” makes absolutely no sense if one lives in a slum in Africa or India, or under one deals daily with the ravages of drug cartels in some central American city. Atheists are atheists because they have the luxury of denying the reality of that which gives human lives essential dignity, and still living comfortable lives themselves.
  3. You can never be certain that what you believe to be true is true
    There is no basis in atheism for any confidence in one’s ability to discern what is and isn’t true about reality. The reason for this is because if one’s main instrument for deriving beliefs about reality (one’s physical brain) is the product of undirected incidental forces then there is no guarantee that this instrument is accurate in that respect. In fact, there is much reason to believe our cognitive equipment is faulty. So atheism contains its own internal defeater; if atheism is true, there is no reason for an atheist to be confident that atheism is true.
  4. There is no objective way to evaluate moral choices
    This is another truth that invites atheists to imagine something that can’t actually exist. In a purposeless universe, there is no basis for contending that creatures who incidentally evolved there should behave in a particular manner; there is no anchor to which we can tether an idea of right or wrong moral choices. From an atheist perspective moral claims are wholly derived from our own mental faculties – and as we saw in the previous point that would make them fairly arbitrary. This is especially true considering there are competing claims about right and wrong behavior. So then while an atheist might desire to act a certain way or desire that others acted in a certain way, he or she can never say others should act in a certain way as no human behavior is actually ever ‘wrong’ in any objective sense. Atheists often argue that they are as moral as any religious believer – but such a claim requires morals to exist in the first place.
  5. The most brutal regimes have been atheistic
    In their opposition to religion, atheists often like to point out that religious belief has historically often been a source of violence and persecution. While this neither proves nor disproves the existence of God; it certainly seems to make a belief in God undesirable. Unfortunately for atheists, they have some of their own history to deal with. In the early and mid 20th century, atheism, thanks to communism, was at its zenith historically. More than any time in history, a number of governments were overtly atheistic – there was no religious belief to motivate their leaders and armies. And it was during that time and in those places that the most horrible actions were taken – perhaps the worst in the history of man. The governments of Stalin, Mao, the various leaders of North Korea and Vietnam, as well as various regimes in Eastern Europe, Africa and South America killed tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of people all told. They imprisoned millions more merely for their religious or political beliefs. The worst forms of torture and forced labor occurred under these systems, and many places have never fully recovered from the ravages of those times. If one were to evaluate beliefs based on the degree of pain and violence those beliefs provoked, then atheism would certainly be the standard for motivating horrible behavior.
  6. Human rights and equality don’t exist
    In the atheist scheme of reality, only that which has a physical component can exist, so claims of inherent rights or human equality are necessarily understood to be, like morals, wholly illusory. Take for example the concept of human equality. In American political philosophy our equality derives from the notion that we were created by God as equal persons of equal worth. What is equal about two humans in this view isn’t their physical qualities but intrinsic ones, a worth that can’t be diminished. On the other hand, people are inherently unequal according to any physical or biological measure. A person with substantive intelligence would certainly be more valuable than someone with a mental defect. A healthy person who can contribute to society would have more much worth than an ill or handicapped person –and so in a world where only that which was physical is real, ‘equality’ could not exist. Much the same could be said of the notions of rights or liberties – these entities can’t be found in a materialistic universe. This would explain in part why wholly atheistic regimes have such atrocious human rights records – they are under no obligation to recognize intrinsic human worth.
  7. You will always be a small minority
    The reality is as long as there have been recognizable human communities, there have been religious beliefs. Ideas about God or gods were the foundation of musicality, art, literature, even civilization itself. Our capacity for spiritual comprehension is our most distinguishing factor – perhaps more than any other thing  that is what it means to be human. Even today, religious belief persists and is growing in the world – and this is made even more the case as primarily secular societies fade due to lack of procreation. If several thousand years of human history and all current trends are any indication, atheism is in its twilight years not its infancy.

Atheists will no doubt contest one or more of these claims, or find ways to wish away or excuse the reality of these claims. All of these claims has either been demonstrated by history or certain facts, and are completely consistent with atheistic beliefs and thus easy enough to defend. One could argue whether atheism is true; one can never say that it is a idea that is inconsequential.

Friday Fun-ness

August 20, 2010

Just because it’s Friday…

Many wonder what happened to Willy Wonka after he gave Charlie the factory – he went on to make bubbles on a beach of course.

You don’t think you like Justin Beiber? Of course you like him – you just like him eight times slower:

Ok, maybe ‘like’ is too strong a word – but it’s definitely better.

Tool Making Intelligence Gets Pushed Back

August 17, 2010
Bone Markings
Bone Markings

According to conventional evolutionary theory, three and half million years ago the ancestors of humanity were ape-like creatures still partly in the trees and just beginning to explore the life of an upright walker. But the latest findings indicate that the there were mental processes occurring at that time which were much more advanced than evolution had predicted – namely that someone was using tools to process game for food. As the article details:

“This discovery dramatically shifts the known timeframe of a game-changing behavior for our ancestors,” says Alemseged, Curator of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. “Tool use fundamentally altered the way our early ancestors interacted with nature, allowing them to eat new types of food and exploit new territories. It also led to tool making — a critical step in our evolutionary path that eventually enabled such advanced technologies as airplanes, MRI machines, and iPhones.”

Although the butchered bones may not look like particularly noteworthy fossils to the lay person, Alemseged can hardly contain his excitement when he describes them. “This find will definitely force us to revise our text books on human evolution, since it pushes the evidence for tool use and meat eating in our family back by nearly a million years,” he explains. “These developments had a huge impact on the story of humanity.”

Not only were these creatures using tools that they had designed, but apparently they were employing complex planning and forethought:

“For the most part, the only stones we see coming from these ancient sediments at Dikika are pebbles too small for making tools,” says McPherron. “The hominins at this site probably carried their stone tools with them from better raw material sources elsewhere. One of our goals is to go back and see if we can find these locations, and look for evidence that at this early date they were actually making, not just using, stone tools.”

While such findings are not surprising to those who see human origins as being something more than the incidental modifications of other organisms, they are wholly unexpected from an evolutionary perspective. As I have chronicled previously, this is not the first time evolutionists have been surprised by evidence that our ancestors at that time were much more like modern humans than evolution predicts.

But that is not the only thing notable about this finding. The process used to make these determinations was one that verifies yet again the usefulness and perspicacity of employing design criterion – that is measurements and principles that help us recognize the actions of an intelligence agent. In this case, it was the markings in fractures on animal bones. Now no tools were found with the bones, and there was no expectation that tool using creatures were around at that time, so researchers were required to depend purely on the nature of the indicators found on the bone itself to conclude it was the result of a tool making intelligence.

The criteria indicated that, “”the marks were consistent with the morphology of stone-inflicted cuts rather than tooth-inflicted marks.” This statement is a tacit acknowledgement that design criteria can be applied to distinguish intelligent activity from that which is naturally occurring, and as much as it does so agrees with the fundamental principles of design theorists. Design criteria can then be understood to be both legitimate and useful.

Of course, many of us already knew that.