Church of the Assumption

I have to say I have trouble understanding arguments like these that totally misrepresent scientific theories.

Sure, if you want to really simplify things, elements forged by stars eventually formed themselves into planets and other matter, which would include dinosaurs. These things happened over billions of years, however, not overnight. And a singularity isn’t the same as nothing. But is such misrepresentation lying for Jesus (or whatever deity you prefer), or is it a lack of comprehension? I’ve sometimes seen arguments about how evolution is worthless because it doesn’t explain the origin of life, or claiming that the origin of stars and planets is somehow part of biological evolution. If you go by Genesis 1, there IS a single explanation for all of these things, and they apparently all happened within six days.

Even if you believe the days aren’t literal twenty-four-hour cycles, you’re still left with one force creating both matter and life, and this creation being basically instantaneous.

Is it impossible to conceive of periods of billions of years? If so, I’m not disagreeing, but the fact that it’s hard to fathom doesn’t make it untrue. I’ve seen arguments for Creationism that essentially amount to scientific explanations being too hard to understand. But isn’t God supposed to be incomprehensible to mere humans? So you can accept one thing you can’t fully understand, but not another, even when one seems to have evidence supporting it? Of course, some of these people are the same ones who are sure an ineffable, omniscient being doesn’t approve of gay marriage; but that’s certainly not always the case. For that matter, why conflate acceptance of scientific origin theories with atheism? There are plenty of religious people who still think evolution is real. For that matter, it’s theoretically possible to be an atheist who still accepts ex nihilo origins, although I can’t say I know of any.

I’ve noticed a tendency from people defending religion to make assumptions without any real basis, and to somehow assume these will win over non-believers. I doubt too many people who don’t believe in God are afraid they’re going to Hell, because Hell is pretty much part and parcel with gods. That’s true of eternal life in general, which I sometimes think is a way to cope with life being crappy. Things are bad NOW, but there will come a time when they’re good again, and you’ll be around to witness it! I get why this is a comforting idea, but it just doesn’t seem likely to me. That’s one reason I take issue with the “this too shall pass” philosophy, even though I agree with it on a more general level. For humanity as a whole, yes, things often go in cycles, and bad stuff doesn’t last forever. Love doesn’t trump hate, but hate doesn’t ALWAYS win either. But on an individual level, it ISN’T going to pass for a lot of people. They’ll have died needlessly. Personally, I guess I’d say that I’m not afraid of BEING dead, as I don’t think I’ll be conscious. I am, however, kind of afraid of DYING, because I feel there’s so much I’ll be missing out on, and I want to know how things turn out. Doesn’t it kind of seem backwards that there tends to be a fair amount of overlap between those who believe in eternal life and in an Earth that’s only 6000 years old?

It’s when you realize billions of years have passed and billions more will in the future that our lifespans seem ridiculously short. In the Young-Earth Creationist model, some humans have actually lived one-sixtieth of the time the world has been around. It sort of makes eternal life seem like not such a big deal. And while I don’t believe in gods at all, I’ve never really bought the argument that, if there is a god, he has to be good. That leads to really convoluted arguments for why the world isn’t always that good if its creator and protector is. One that seems fairly popular is that God is good, but humanity screwed up, so he’s letting us all stew in the mess we’ve made until we decide to shape up. That does raise the question as to why God made humans so stupid, though. And no, free will doesn’t explain it, because there are plenty of decisions to make without “let’s commit genocide” being an option. To be fair, it’s not just theists who make assumptions when trying to prove a point. I just think they would have seen the objections to these assumptions often enough to stop making them.

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1 Response to Church of the Assumption

  1. I think what you demonstrate is that there is a lot of bad biblical exegesis out there. Religions the world over are filled with examples of bad exegesis, and things like handling snakes, not wanting one’s picture taken, or shunning all medical help are just the tip of the iceberg. Religion is not alone in putting forth harmful (or just plain stupid) ideas. It exists across the spectrum of human activity. Still, ideas have consequences, for good or ill, and the good news is that there’s also a lot of excellent exegesis out there as well.

    For that reason we have to shift through the one to get to the other, which can be a challenge, but that’s true when dealing with anything worthwhile, such as when researching matters of health, science, finances, politics, even entertainment. When researching in any of those, one’s going to come across a lot of false and misleading material that has to be weeded out to get to honest and valuable information. The existence of bad or erroneous information doesn’t mean there’s only bad out there. It just means it’s going to take some work to find the good. And in the end it’s worth the expenditure of time and energy.

    When it comes to searching for good biblical exegesis, the first step to weeding out frauds is to recognize that if they’re not guided by the principles of love, honesty and humility, then they’re not worth anyone’s time. The Bible actually prepares people for this. In Matthew 7:16, right after telling people to seek and ask for wisdom, and to treat each other as they’d want to be treated, Jesus warned: “Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.”

    The people of the first century understood what a figurative good fruit was, but the Bible makes it explicit for those that might not: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” (Galatians 5:22) Jesus notes a simple rule of thumb: “good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” Anyone not manifesting good fruit is likened to a bad (or spiritually dead) tree, and should thus be avoided. They existed in 1st Century in the shape of the Pharisees and Sadducees and the erroneous, deceptive and misleading teachings that they used to exploit and manipulate people. It’s no different now with the false (and sometimes prominent) religious teachers out there.

    Most, if not all of the issues you raise are well-thought-out, well-reasoned, and explained in good exegesis, but you won’t find it in the far right, which have become Pharisaical in their thinking and attitudes.

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