The Pieces Just Don’t Fit (Part 1 of 2)

There’s something about a rebellious 7th grader and a one thousand-piece puzzle set that just don’t mix. But there I was, sitting at a table, being punished, having to painstakingly and meticulously piece together this stupid image of a serene farm in autumn, a farm I cared nothing for and saw no beauty in. But under penalty of after school suspension, I had to finish it.

So what does a bratty, undisciplined pre-teen do when he is faced with a crappy activity he hates? Why, he ruffles through the pieces and finds the more colorful ones and slams them together into one big mob–whether they fit or not! The rest of the pieces get discreetly thrown back into the box when the teacher isn’t looking. “Close enough”, I figured. No after school detention for me that day!

Had the teacher looked a little closer, my plot would have been foiled. Old and nice, white-haired and soft-spoken Mrs. Cloud in her early 70’s would have seen that the pieces I mashed together were not a perfect match at all, but oh how eyes with less than 20/20 vision can reduce one’s powers of perception!

I never noticed it as a believer, but so many things in God’s most holy of books didn’t fit with what I was taught about the natural world. I could see the logic behind Bible statements, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16) But my view of the natural world - much like our jumbled and contorted puzzle above - didn’t quite fit with Bible mythology.

For one, the sun and moon end up not being able to obey orders all the time. Heavy cloud cover often blocks out sun and moonlight. In the case of a meteor or comet disaster, such as the massive one that touched ground in the Yucatan Peninsula some sixty five millions years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs, sending thousands of cubic miles of dirt into the sky, blocking out light and changing Earth’s climate drastically, the results were cataclysmic. Over fifty percent of life on Earth was destroyed. For almost half a year in the northern and southern Polar Regions, the light of the sun is not to be seen. The inhabitants there live in deprecating darkness. The orbital mechanics of Earth have it so that the moon only shows up in the sky a number of nights per month. So even under ideal conditions, this “lesser light” doesn’t do his job, and never does he do it well. There’s no way by moonlight to see if there are any bugs in my sleeping bag if I’m out camping, and certainly not enough light to read the Bible before bedtime as God would want us to do!

Then, of course, there is the fact that if people had been around three billion years ago, the moon would have been a real bastard! The moon has always been a record-holding mass murderer, producing natural disasters; back when Earth had six-hour days, the moon brought massive tidal waves that pulverized Earth’s surface daily, but you wouldn’t know that today. Today, the moon has gone from overzealous to near apathetic when compared to the earlier impressions he made. He is starting to get lax on his duties as he is retreating from Earth at about an inch and a half per year, slowly but consistently losing his grip on our beloved planet. How this is supposed to “declare” the glory of God in the firmament is beyond me. If it does, God’s glory must be as fleeting and changing as these celestial evangelists that declare it.

Then there is the problem of the moon having craters. Not exactly what you would expect to find in a flawless creation of God large enough to stabilize our planet and solicit awe from mankind. The thing is scarred with craters, and these are marks of a chaotic past, not an orderly creative one. The moon is a testimony to death, to catastrophe, and not life or universal harmony of God’s workmanship. It should be an embarrassment for the Bible believer because by the looks of it, it wasn’t created at all, but formed naturally in a planetary collision billions of years ago. That is what science says happened. More than anything else, the moon is like a great big tombstone to Earth—gray, dead, barren, and over our heads. It just lacks our names!

I am embarrassed to say I once believed that a greater light was made to rule the day and a lesser light was made to rule the night (even though there weren’t two lights, only one, the latter being a simple reflection of the former), but I have since come to understand that neither were “made” for anything or anyone, anymore so than Sirius B was “made” for the Dogon people of Africa to worship as the creator of all life on Earth. But this is not all. The real tickler is to follow.

The Bible says, “He made the stars also.” Oh, just like that! God made the world then the stars! What’s wrong with this picture? We know that stars had their origins before everything else we see around us, certainly long before planets. But to Bible writers, God creating stars was just as trivial as picking up laundry detergent at Mr. Patel’s local Sac n’ Save corner store on your way home from work. The stars were just an afterthought of God…nothing big, certainly not colossal nuclear reactors or nurseries of planets like we know they are now. They were unimportant except to serve as points of light in the sky, testimonies to the creative power of a ghost. This would be a more than forgive-able error for people of that time period to make had believers in this myth not claimed divine inspiration, and thus, infallibility in all matters, secular and religious.

The unsurpassed arrogance boggles the mind…Biblicists want us to believe that the ultimate meaning of NGC 598, the Sombrero Galaxy, M81, Andromeda, and all the other hundreds of billions of galaxies in existence were really created as heavenly testimonies to exalt and extol a Hebrew war-god on a planet far, far away called “Earth,” who commanded his people to kill lambs and turtledoves so that he can take pleasure in the smell of it (Psalm 19:1-5; Leviticus 1:9; 12:6). Like an ugly, middle-aged, business tycoon with a hairy back, who buys a Ferrari just to be noticed by floozy college girls less than half his age, God created galaxies and stars just for us to look up at and admire! The very thought calls for a contemplative sigh of amazement!

(JH)

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh please. All this "science" doesn't make a whit of sense!

"Jesus told us that we need to become like children if we want to get into Heaven. You see, Jesus doesn't want us to get puffed up with so-called education and knowledge, which is why He has anointed George W. Bush."

"As Christians, we don't have silly stories or some bizarre mythology to explain the Truth. We know that Jesus is up in heaven, living on a cloud, sitting on a golden throne. If He rustles His silver robes, the Sahara gets a sand storm. If He flicks a drop of perspiration off His furrowed brow, those little folks in Tokyo find themselves under 10 feet of water. Secular scientists go crazy about a few little factories belching smoke, saying it causes acid rain and holes in the erogenous zone. But I have news for you, if the Lord just lets out just one tiny pooty-poot, it is like 4,000 Mount St. Helen's blowing a dark hole straight through the sky. "

(http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news1100/science.html)

Praise His Holy Name!

Kevin Parry said...

Thank you for this blog post. You describe one of the reasons why I left the faith: when I was a Christian, I had to adopt double standards in my thinking when evaluating various claims. As a Christian, I would laugh at someone who claimed that a dog had spoken to them, but I was more than willing to believe an incredible story of a talking donkey in a 4000 year old manuscript. As you said, the claims of the Bible simply don't fit with what we know of nature. I'm glad that I am now an atheist, that I can be consistent in my thinking.

Memoirs of an ex-Christian


Kevin

beepbeepitsme said...

It is perhaps the height of our arrogance that we assume that the entire universe was created for our benefit.

Anonymous said...

You have such a beautiful way of expressing your thoughts - you are a very talented writer! You caught my attention and I was able to follow through on the whole post - thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Holman,

I wonder what you mean when you suggest that craters on the moon indicate a chaos that is not indicative of order. Exactly what should the moon look like if God created it? You seem to know. Otherwise, how do I account for you arguing that the imperfections on the face of the moon prove there are no perfections? What do perfections look like, and how do you know that a perfect moon is not riddled with craters? Moreover, it seems you are conflating existence with creation. But I think you have to agree with this: There was a time, irrespective of there being a God, that the moon was NOT yet hit by a single meteorite. Would you then say that this proves that an atheistic creation is not chaotic since, for a brief moment, the surface of the moon was unblemished? Now, if the moon can exist in an atheistic universe unblemished for a moment, how come it can't exist unblemished in a theistic one; and how does a blemish -- or a crater of any kind -- disprove Christian cosmology, if a non-blemished surface does not disprove an atheist's cosmology?

When the Genesis myth says that God looked on creation and saw that it was good, does that mean, in your opinion, that there were no meteorite impacts, no volcanic eruptions, no solar storms when God surveyed the cosmos?

How about this: Let us say that there were odd folks who believed that the sun was a god. How ridiculous, of course, because we know it to be a big ball of helium fusion. But I ask you: how do we know that a god is not a big ball of helium fusion; how do you know a crater-marked moon causing tidal surges -- on which so much if not all of terrestrial life depends (and is not a dead force as you suggest) -- is not a god?

Moreover, what scientific evidence do you have that indicates that any one part of the universe could be removed -- let's say, Andromeda (your example) -- and that its removal would not have a catastrophic effect on humanity? As it stands right now, I believe, the one thing that science can say definitively is that FOR ALL WE KNOW, every atom in this universe is necessary for the creation of terrestrial life. That may seem preposterous, but what we can see right now, as scientists, is that it is undeniably true. Hence, we are -- organically and sentiently speaking -- the center of the cosmos. And, you see, it does not take a theologian to place us so arrogantly in the center of things: science does that just fine.

Here is a creed tagged to the end of every letter to the editor submitted to the local press by renowned local atheist, Arpad Toth: "There is nothing greater than a thinking human being whose nearest relative is the chimpanzee." Of course, this assumes an awful lot of knowledge on the part of this atheist; and it also proves one thing: this atheist believes that the center of the universe is human consciousness. What Bible verse, what religious catechism, led him to such a conclusion, do you think? How did he become so arrogant as an atheist, pronouncing things he cannot know, and with such conviction? If it is wrong to think we are in the center of the universe, as conscious beings, then why do atheists like Arpad Toth place themselves there? Are they closeted theologians? If the greatest thing in the universe is consciousness, does that not mean that everything else is created for that end, to give it support and sustenance?

I don't see how it can be otherwise. It seems to me quite true, or, if not true, quite likely, that all of the heavens are necessary for the existence of mankind. I would like someone to demonstrate the possibility of another universe where human consciousness could emerge without all of the apparatus which is this very universe.

Peace,

BG

hhh said...

Its very very bad. You have not studied or meditaed any thing from Bible. Sorry sister .Again satan won!!!!

I will pary for your soul.
hhh

Joe E. Holman said...

Very good questions you pose here, Contratimes. I am more than honored to answer them…


YOU SAID: “I wonder what you mean when you suggest that craters on the moon indicate a chaos that is not indicative of order. Exactly what should the moon look like if God created it? You seem to know. Otherwise, how do I account for you arguing that the imperfections on the face of the moon prove there are no perfections? What do perfections look like, and how do you know that a perfect moon is not riddled with craters?”

MY REPLY: I mean craters, rampant rocks with potentially deadly trajectories are indicative of disorder. There would be no conflict in a perfect universe. Our world is in danger of being smashed by meteors even now. That being true on the moon (regardless of there not being life there at present) is just another indication of chaos, disaster, and therefore, imperfection. In a perfect world, a moon-earth system would not be needed or used, but for the sake of preserving the argument, a perfect moon would be perfectly spherical, the absolute perfect size down to the most minute measurements, without so much as a speck of stardust on it, or any other non-essential presence. The point is, the moon is the result of some collision, and it itself was bombarded in the past. A child can see that a perfect designer would not need to build it that way.

YOU SAID: “Moreover, it seems you are conflating existence with creation. But I think you have to agree with this: There was a time, irrespective of there being a God, that the moon was NOT yet hit by a single meteorite. Would you then say that this proves that an atheistic creation is not chaotic since, for a brief moment, the surface of the moon was unblemished? Now, if the moon can exist in an atheistic universe unblemished for a moment, how come it can't exist unblemished in a theistic one; and how does a blemish -- or a crater of any kind -- disprove Christian cosmology, if a non-blemished surface does not disprove an atheist's cosmology?”

MY REPLY: The universe is just not precise enough to provide anything in a “perfect” state, even the moon before it was touched by collisions. It was and is sufficient as far as a moon goes for our world, but a perfect creator would have done much better. For instance, had a god designed this world for humans, (as fit as this planet is for man) it is still observed that an earth could have been without flesh-eating viruses, volcanic eruptions, predator-prey relationships, etc. But let’s say for the sake of argument that the moon was once perfect. That wouldn’t matter because the course of the world shows me chaos still. It is the overall picture we get that destroys the perfection ideal. The moon is scarred. That is an imperfection, just like meteors themselves. A perfect creator does not create planets and then have them destroyed or defaced by meteors simply for the sake of one little planet with life on it, far, far away. To think so is utter insanity!

YOU SAID: When the Genesis myth says that God looked on creation and saw that it was good, does that mean, in your opinion, that there were no meteorite impacts, no volcanic eruptions, no solar storms when God surveyed the cosmos?

MY REPLY: Of course. No predation, no death, no pain, no accidents, etc. You can’t have it any other way.

YOU SAID: How about this: Let us say that there were odd folks who believed that the sun was a god. How ridiculous, of course, because we know it to be a big ball of helium fusion. But I ask you: how do we know that a god is not a big ball of helium fusion; how do you know a crater-marked moon causing tidal surges -- on which so much if not all of terrestrial life depends (and is not a dead force as you suggest) -- is not a god?

MY REPLY: Well, first, I don’t need to know whether some object is a deity or not. The naturalistic premise and common sense both say it isn’t. Second, the earth and life COULD survive without a moon, albeit only smaller forms of life, and the sun also produces tidal waves on earth, though to a smaller degree.

YOU SAID: Moreover, what scientific evidence do you have that indicates that any one part of the universe could be removed -- let's say, Andromeda (your example) -- and that its removal would not have a catastrophic effect on humanity? As it stands right now, I believe, the one thing that science can say definitively is that FOR ALL WE KNOW, every atom in this universe is necessary for the creation of terrestrial life. That may seem preposterous, but what we can see right now, as scientists, is that it is undeniably true. Hence, we are -- organically and sentiently speaking -- the center of the cosmos. And, you see, it does not take a theologian to place us so arrogantly in the center of things: science does that just fine.

MY REPLY: OK, you’re grasping at straws here and you know this is just hogwash I believe; are you expecting me to believe that science tells us that EVERY SINGLE atom, and by implication, arrangement of atoms, elements, and substances in the entire universe MUST be as they are for life to abide on earth? Certainly not! That would be idiotic beyond belief. I stand confident, without fear of successful contradiction, that if I could blot a handful of stardust on the moon out of existence right now, the universe would still be able to exist just fine. Now go bigger…to stars and galaxies. Are you telling me a distant quasar 8 billion light-years away HAD to be there to support life on this little mudball called Earth?! I hope not! The idea is so silly that it doesn’t deserve comment. If ten thousand tons of minerals had never existed in the cosmos, it would not effect things significantly, considering the overall mass of the universe.

YOU SAID: Here is a creed tagged to the end of every letter to the editor submitted to the local press by renowned local atheist, Arpad Toth: "There is nothing greater than a thinking human being whose nearest relative is the chimpanzee." Of course, this assumes an awful lot of knowledge on the part of this atheist; and it also proves one thing: this atheist believes that the center of the universe is human consciousness. What Bible verse, what religious catechism, led him to such a conclusion, do you think? How did he become so arrogant as an atheist, pronouncing things he cannot know, and with such conviction?

If it is wrong to think we are in the center of the universe, as conscious beings, then why do atheists like Arpad Toth place themselves there? Are they closeted theologians? If the greatest thing in the universe is consciousness, does that not mean that everything else is created for that end, to give it support and sustenance?

I don't see how it can be otherwise. It seems to me quite true, or, if not true, quite likely, that all of the heavens are necessary for the existence of mankind.

MY REPLY: Consciousness is at the center of the universe, since inevitably, being conscious is being “alive.” In that sense, yes, we are all at the center of our universe, and individually in our own microverses. I don’t know what you mean when you say “pronouncing things he cannot know.” Why is he arrogant? Greatness is a personally and naturally transitory concept. Why is he to be faulted for this? There is a natural sense of pride (yes, arrogance) that we are the greatest (so far as we know) lifeforms. We might, say, judge ourselves to be higher lifeforms when compared to lower ones, based on intelligence and so forth, but religion and theistic delusion declares that we are infallibly THE highest creation. It maps out our destinies as immutable. It produces pride and irrationality on the highest of levels. If there is one thing the universe has taught intelligent man, it is that he is cosmically unimportant, not higher than any other animal in any significant way. Knowledge blows away arrogance.

YOU SAID: I would like someone to demonstrate the possibility of another universe where human consciousness could emerge without all of the apparatus which is this very universe.

MY REPLY: But why does human life have to be? Why must human life exist? I’m sure many universes have come and gone wherein human life is and is not possible. This present universe is one possible arrangement of things. Besides, your concerns about a universe where human consciousness is possible is shot in the foot for the simple reason that of all the dead, barrenness around us, only ONE planet emerged with life on it (so far as we know). Again, that smacks of chaos and lends credence to the idea that mankind is NOT a case of special creation, but of blind evolution.

(JH)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Only ONE planet merged with life on it????!!!! That information makes me feel like this planet and the life on it is very precious territory! Just my perspective - I suppose others will argue we're disposable, especially if we arouse enmity in one another.....

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Holman (maybe Anonymous, too),

I am glad that you consider that my questions are very good, though, it seems, you have found some part of my post ridiculous.

Can we agree to this: we should dispense with all faith-based statements? My sense is that you are probably offended by the question, since you are an atheist who does not live by faith. OK. Then I will limit my rules to myself: I will try to avoid faith-based statements.

Am I right in believing that you do not think this is a perfect universe? I think I am. And since there is no perfection in it, you would conclude, I am certain, that such imperfection proves that God did not create the universe because, if he did create it, it would not be so imperfect. Do I have this right? I mean, would you agree that there is nothing perfect in this universe?

I will await your reply.

BG

Anonymous said...

How does one define "perfect"? By whitewashing the universe, society???

scary....

Give me adventure and overcoming any day.

Joe E. Holman said...

contratimes said...

"Can we agree to this: we should dispense with all faith-based statements? My sense is that you are probably offended by the question, since you are an atheist who does not live by faith. OK. Then I will limit my rules to myself: I will try to avoid faith-based statements.

Am I right in believing that you do not think this is a perfect universe? I think I am. And since there is no perfection in it, you would conclude, I am certain, that such imperfection proves that God did not create the universe because, if he did create it, it would not be so imperfect. Do I have this right? I mean, would you agree that there is nothing perfect in this universe?"



My reply: Yes, we would agree. We can see perfections by looking at a thing's imperfections. We create a machine, like a car or piece of work equipment, and the Japanese perfect it. Someone writes a book, and someone like me looks it over and edits it, thus, perfecting it. In a more extended sense, we observe the same thing in this world...we observe our bodies, how evolution has made them to work somewhat well, but we also see their imperfections and how they could have been made better, hence, more "perfect." In the case of the world, we see how it works, and likewise, see how it could be drastically improved. We can rationally and surely conclude that craters on a rock, or dunes of sand on some distant planet DOES NOT mean anything to tiny planet Earth. A rock crashing into some nameless distant planet has nothing to do with this mudball. So everything I said stands untouched.

(JH)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Holman,

I have been elsewhere. Sorry. My thanks to you for continuing this dialogue.

Have you contradicted yourself here? Perhaps not.

I asked you whether you would agree that there is nothing in the universe that is perfect. You said that, indeed, you did agree with this idea.

But then you went on to tell me that you recognize what is perfect by looking at imperfections. But for you to notice what an imperfection is, you must have a standard of perfection that defines for you what is imperfect. If an essay comes across your desk that is not perfect, you do not see this in a vacuum: you see this because you already know what a perfect essay -- free of misspellings, non sequiturs and grammatical misstakes -- looks like beforehand: you have a standard. You know, for instance, that the perfect way to spell "perfect," is to spell it perfectly. You do not see the word "prefect" in isolation and instantly recognize that it is imperfect, and from there discover how to spell "perfect." You start with "perfect," and then look for misspellings. On top of that, you look at context, because you know that "prefect" is not misspelled if a writer is trying to express something about prefects (magistrates). And if you see perfect spelled as Perfekt, you don't immediately correct it, as it might be a proper name. You start, not with the imperfection, but with an implied perfection, which is rooted in your standard. Your standard leads the way; the aberrations of that standard are not your beginning point.

Similarly, if you look at the moon and determine it is not perfect, you can only say this because you have a prior standard of lunar perfection. You do not look at it and extrapolate from its cratered face that a better moon would have an un-cratered face.

Here, then, is your contradiction, and it is simple to see. You just agreed that there is no perfection in the universe, and then you state that you can edit something to perfection. You say that the moon is not perfect, and then you imply that your idea of a perfect moon is perfect. If I have written the word "perfect," and I have done so perfectly (can I improve on how it is spelled if it is spelled correctly?), then my spelling, in this instance, is perfect.

So now we have several perfect things in this universe: Your editing, your idea of perfection, and my spelling.

But these can't be perfect, if there is no perfection in the universe.

Now, I have a question: How do you know that a cratered moon is not a perfect moon? My wife has a mole on her face: Is she imperfect? Who says? I think she's perfect: she would be imperfect without the mole. If she is deemed imperfect, we judge her by a standard which we believe to be perfect. If the standard is perfect, then we have perfection in the universe. (And the standard of perfection, or our idea of it, must be both perfect and perfectly applied: if it is not perfect or perfectly applied, then we cannot divine imperfection, nor can we deem something imperfect.)

But if we do not have a perfect standard, if we do not know what perfection is, then we cannot know whether the moon, or my wife, are perfect (or not).

If I have misunderstood your position, or if I have misconstructed my argument, please let me know.

Blessings!

BG