Wait… A sliver of hope for reason.. From Pat Robertson! Seriously.

Washington (CNN) – Televangelist Pat Robertson challenged the idea that Earth is 6,000 years old this week, saying the man who many credit with conceiving the idea, former Archbishop of Ireland James Ussher, “wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years.”

The statement was in response to a question Robertson fielded Tuesday from a viewer on his Christian Broadcasting Network show “The 700 Club.” In a submitted question, the viewer wrote that one of her biggest fears was that her children and husband would not go to heaven “because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.”

“You go back in time, you’ve got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things, and you’ve got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas,” Robertson said. “They’re out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth, and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don’t try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That’s not the Bible.”

Before answering the question, Robertson acknowledged the statement was controversial by saying, “I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this.”

“If you fight science, you are going to lose your children, and I believe in telling them the way it was,” Robertson concluded.

Chew on this and be afraid.

Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years, according to a survey released by Gallup in June. That number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years, since 1982, when Gallup first asked the question on creationism versus evolution.

Seriously. I can’t even respond to this factoid. Almost half of Americans believe something that goes against all scientific evidence.

Inflation

One of the theories related to cosmology, specifically the Big Bang, is inflation. In the first microseconds following the big bang, the universe is thought to have expanded extremely quickly from an infinitely small point to a rapidly expanding space full of matter and energy. This expansion is thought to have burst forth essentially from nothing growing at super luminal speeds. (Note, while it is thought that nothing an travel faster than light through space, space itself can actually expand faster.)

The aspect of expansion theory that makes it so fun with regard to religion and atheism is that it offers opportunities for both to support their independent goals. One outgrowth of expansion theory is the possibility of multiple universes. The anthropic principle makes a single universe with life, but without God incredibly unlikely (not win the Powerball Lottery unlikely. More like win the Powerball a few thousand times in a row unlikely.) Inflation posits that there may be an infinite number of universes. In a multiverse with an infinite number of universes, one that can support life, while rare would not be unique, and no God is necessary to explain its existence.

On the other hand, expansion theory also gives God a place to live. If the universe burst into existence from a singularity, expanding rapidly in a uniform blast of space, energy and matter, there would be no universe as we understand it. Matter and energy would be dispersed uniformly across space, expanding ever outward and away from all other energy and matter. But that is not what happened, of course. Matter and energy are, thankfully clumped into regions of space, therefore able to form galaxies swimming in galaxy clusters where stars and planets and life can form. Such non-uniformity of the universe could be the result of quantum fluctuations in the singularity prior to, or just following the big bang. It seems also that the uniformity of the laws of physics and common constituents of matter and energy would be supported by this notion. An intelligence outside our universe, perhaps a scientist in a physics lab creating micro-black holes, could control these fluctuations to determine the eventual make up of the entire universe. Further, at a quantum mechanical level, cause and effect are often reversed or decoupled. An intelligence that arose from the birth of the universe, could actually cause the birth of the universe. This possibility arises from a very strange aspect of quantum mechanics.

Essentially, matter and energy at the very smallest levels seem to be effected by our very act of observing it. Further, these effects can be instantaneous over space and even have retroactive effects in time. One of the explanations for this is the multiverse theory. If a photon, or electron exists as a wave, it does not so much exist in the way we understand, but rather it exists as a set of possible states of existence. When we observe them one of two very peculiar things seems to happen. In some theories, every possibility exists. Every fork in the road, from the spin of a single electron to what you ate for breakfast births another universe. There are universes of universes spawning ever more. For every action, for every possible path of a single photon, there exists a universe in which every possible outcome occurs. Each possible outcome spawning additional universes, billions upon billions of times per second. This sounds crazy, but it appears that the only other option is that mind effects reality. That the very act of observing something can change the universe around us and in so doing, change the universe as it ever was and ever will be. By extension if mind can effect reality, and there exists a mind greater than we can understand, then this intellect could create the universe from nothing but variations in the quantum singularity before the big bang. Further such an intellect could theoretically do this after it came into existence as a result of the bang because in the quantum world, effect can precede cause.

Interestingly, in some theologies, including Christianity God does not exist in linear time in the way we perceive the universe. Rather he exists in an eternal now. An intellect that exists outside of time, with the ability to observe existence could be both the cause and effect of the quantum fluctuations that resulted in the creation of the universe. Further the idea of an eternal now, rather than linear time is interestingly a very good description of many quantum effects.

Skeptic

1. a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of accepted beliefs

The term skeptic originally referred to a philosophy of challenging the status quo, of thinking beyond the commonly held beliefs of the majority. Today, however the vast majority of individuals claiming to be skeptics are anything but. When we speak today of skeptics, we are generally referring to individuals who espouse a dogmatic adherence to the belief system of rational materialism or scientific reductionism.
In truth, the so called skeptics are generally nothing more than dogmatic zealots of their own faith system. This faith system has a very simple creed, which an be summed up as “There is nothing in this universe but that which science has proven. There is no God, no ghosts, no aliens, no psychic effects or afterlife. Nothing that is outside of modern scientific thought has any validity. Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.”
Real skeptics are agnostics with regard to anything that has not been proven. Self described skeptics tend to be dogmatic and closed minded, the exact opposite of the traditional meaning of the term. They are skeptical only of claims or evidence that support one of the phenomenon which the so called skeptical faith system rejects. Very often, skeptics sound more like Agent Kay from Men in Black explaining a massive UFO sighting with “All right, Beatrice, there was no alien. The flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.” Any explanation will do, so long as it doesn’t involve any “woo” (as the skeptics call anything outside of rational materialistic experience).

Salvation by Faith

Salvation by faith is a belief espoused by some religious traditions, specifically Protestant Christian sects. Stripped to its essence it means if you believe in Christ you will go to heaven. If you don’t you burn in Hell. The followers of this creed essentially take the following quote John 3:15 “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” as the be all and end all of religious life.
So if you are a selfish scum bag bastard, but you believe what you are told without questioning, God loves you. If you think for yourself and analyze the information, he hates you and will cast you into a pit of eternal torment to be sodomized by demons till the end of time. Whether you are a good, loving person who serves your fellow man and never kicks puppies or eats children is irrelevant. Just to be clear, God gave man the intellect to think for himself, then casts him into Hell if he uses it?
Further, if you are born in Saudi Arabia and are taught that Jesus was a great guy, good with kids and a wise teacher, but not the son of God, it’s into the pit with you. Seems to me that God, if he exists he would be the God of everyone. Smart and naive alike. People born in Alabama and people born in Bagdad.
I find it hard to believe that the creator of the universe would base the eternal fate of your soul upon whether you believe a story about a man who lived two thousand years ago, for whom there is very little historical documentation. Maybe he is the son of God. Sure, I’m not going to say he wasn’t. I quite like most of his teachings, but I can’t just accept his story verbatim without question. I mean come on, George Washington lived two hundred years ago, and he had wooden teeth (no he didn’t) threw a dollar across the Potomac (no he didn’t) chopped down a cherry tree (no he didn’t) crossed the Delaware in a little row boat (no he didn’t).

Dark Energy and Dark Matter

Claiming that humanity actually has any idea of what the hell is going on in this universe, let alone beyond is like a bacterium floating in crap halfway up a mouse’s ass pontificating on the existence or non-existence of intelligent life beyond the rectum.

There is no better example of this fact than dark matter and energy.

Way back in the nineties, scientists were still debating a rather interesting question. “Would the mass of the universe eventually slow the expansion of the universe, then reverse it into a big squish, or was there too little mass to stop the expansion completely?” Anyone who understands basic physics can understand that following the big bang matter, energy and space expanded outward, and this initial burst of energy would send the all the stars, galaxies and everything else expanding outward. It doesn’t take any imagination to further conclude that this energy would gradually dissipate due to the force of gravity, gradually slowing, if not stopping this expansion.

Yeah, no. In 1998 observations from the Hubble telescope showed that not only was the universe not slowing down, it was accelerating. Science had a collective “wait, what?” moment. Turns out there is a thing called dark energy which somehow exerts a repulsive force on massive bodies at vast distances, but has little effect at lesser distances. Well, maybe. Thing is, we really don’t know what it is, how it works or where it comes from. What we do know is if our observations and math are correct, out of everything in the universe, all the energy and matter that there is, about 70% is dark energy. In other words, we have no real idea what 70% of the universe is even made of. We have ideas, conjectures-theories even but no experimental data to support any one idea over another.

So, yeah. That leaves 30%. Of this remaining 30%, most is something called dark matter. See, galaxies are extremely large and seemingly massive, often with super massive black holes at their centers. But when we look out into space, at all the stars, planets, black holes, dust clouds etc. that are visible directly or indirectly, we find that there just isn’t enough mass in galaxies and star clusters to explain their behaviors. Some spin too fast to be held together by the gravity of the matter we can observe.

Science theorizes that there is a form of matter that does not interact with normal matter in any way, except by its gravitational effects. It does not reflect, absorb or refract light. It has no electromagnetic charge. It does not come into contact with, bond to or chemically react with normal matter. It actually seems a bit foolish to refer to normal matter when the majority of matter in the universe is this invisible, insubstantial, unknown stuff called dark matter. In fact of all the matter and energy there in the universe, about 25% is dark matter. Again, we have ideas and theories about what dark matter is, but no solid data to make anything more than educated guesses.

If you’ve been doing your math, that means of everything there is in the universe, we have no firm idea what the hell 95% is. That is not to say that we understand everything about the tiny sliver of the universe that is visible to us, just that 95% is a total and complete mystery.

Atheism

Atheism is the doctrine that there is no God. Don’t let a dogmatic atheist convince you it means a lack of belief in a God or gods. These two definitions sound alike, but they mean very different things. Lack of belief in God and denial of the existence of God are not the same thing. There are theists, agnostics and atheists. The argument that agnostics are actually just a breed of atheist is amateurish, Orwellian word manipulation.

If I were to ask you if you believed I had a full gallon of milk in my refrigerator, what would you say? The only reasonable answer is you don’t know. You don’t know me, and have no way of knowing if I do or not. You would be agnostic on the subject. If you believed that I did have a gallon of milk in my fridge, even though you have no factual data on which to base this assumption you would be comparable to a theist. This is a state of belief; let’s call it lactism. If, without any hard data or information, you believed that I did not have milk, we might call you alactic. Logic, and a basic understanding of how language works would preclude saying that everyone who has no belief for or against the existence of my milk, would be described in the same way as those who actively deny the potential existence of milk in my fridge. To do so makes the word alactic into a word with essentially no meaning.

I know of no set of terms in which one term describes one extreme, another describes the neutral state and a third term encompasses both the neutral and the other extreme. Yet that is what the evangelical atheist community would have us believe. If their manipulation of language made any sense, we might have the word hot to describe a state of higher thermal energy, warm to describe a state of moderate thermal energy and cold would describe both moderate and low thermal energy states. Further, there would be no term that would describe only low thermal energy states. Bright would mean bright, dim would mean dim and dark would mean anything other than bright.

So why would anyone want to try to redefine atheism to include agnosticism? Primarily to pump up the numbers of their little club.

By lumping agnostics in with atheists, the evangelical atheists can claim that their numbers are much larger than they really are. Atheists make up a tiny percentage of the population, while agnostics are a much larger group. Many times, when atheists make claims regarding the percentage of atheists in the general population or in specific groups, they intentionally overstate the numbers by lumping agnostics in with themselves. They even go so far as to insultingly call agnostics “weak atheists”, while they refer to themselves as “strong atheists”. So they are strong, and we are weak for not accepting their beliefs? How about if agnostics are atheists we use the more accurate terms “open minded atheists” and “dogmatic atheists”? Sorry, I’m not an atheist. I don’t subscribe to your insistence in belief without proof. Pleas stake me off your mailing list.

Where it sometimes gets amusing is when an atheist, in an attempt to support his assertion that atheism is a word without meaning, starts giving a lesson in Greek word conjugation. The word atheism, he will say is Greek in origin, and in Greek the prefix “a” denotes “without”. Therefor atheism means only without theism, not denying theism. This would make sense. Let’s go back to the ancient Greek meaning of the word. But wait. When the Greeks used the word, it meant something more in line with the English word “ungodly”. That is to say immoral or sinful, acting against the will of the gods. It had nothing to do with belief or disbelief. Of course few atheists would support this definition. Any support from the Romans, who also threw the word around? Well, they called Christians and Jews atheists for denying the Roman gods, and the Christians and Jews called them atheists for denying their god. That doesn’t really fit, unless we make the word atheism to mean anyone who denies any of the thousands of gods man has worshiped over the millennia.

Perhaps you still buy the notion that English would have a word to describe believers, another word to describe doubters and a third word that encompasses doubters and deniers together, but no word that describes deniers of the existence of god. Perhaps you look it up in a dictionary and find both definitions as valid (which you would). That’s okay. The way language works is by consensus, and the general consensus is that atheism is the denial that there is no god. That is why this definition is always first in nearly every dictionary you care to look in.

Regardless of what you the reader may believe, when I refer to atheists here, I am referring to people who believe and assert that there is no god or gods.