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Showing posts with label Evolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Evolution. Show all posts

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sabbath School 24/09/11 - An alternative interpretation of Matthew 24:24

As I was entering church this past Saturday (late as usual), someone was reading Matthew 24:24. I was immediately struck by a new interpretation of it I haven't heard before, and I'm wondering if any serious theologian/pastor has shat it out before. Matthew 24:24 reads:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

And this got me thinking: the false prophets aren't literally prophets. The signs and wonders are things we're already taking for granted every day: the healing of diseases, increased longevity, technology. I mean, we all know the cause of disease is demonic - the only force outside of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that can cast out demons is the master of those demonic powers themselves. Only the devil can extend the life of a human being beyond the three score years and ten our Heavenly Father hath allotted us, and the only thing outside of prayer that can allow instantaneous communication? Surely you agree with me - it has to be demonic. Those pictures you see on the television? Demons. You are inviting demonic forces into your house the moment you turn on that infernal device.

The coup de grace of the demonic deception is yet to come (for what prophet of doom worth his salt doesn't make up his own predictions?), in the form of a cure for cancer, HIV and all other of ailments God has poured out as a curse upon the sinners, satanic agents and homos (especially the homos) of this world, brought forth by the ritual demonic sacrifice of unborn children known as embryonic stem cell research and, worst of all (cue dramatic organ music), evolution.

The point of all of this will be to divert the sight of the world from the Lord and get them trusting in their own devices and their new god science. Undoubtedly, science is the greatest force driving skepticism and atheism today and has been driven from its very foundation by a diabolical agenda. You have been warned: do not partake of the forbidden fruits of science, lest you be deceived and pulled into its web as well.

And that also means my favourite reason for rejecting claims of gods, holy books and the supernatural - that science has done just fine without them and gone a long way towards disproving them - is all part of the satanic ploy...

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P.S. - My official Back to Blogging post is coming later today or possibly tomorrow.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Adventist Review - La Sierra University Granted Window to Show its Faithfulness to Church’s Creation Belief

Three days ago, this article appeared on the site for the Adventist Review, "The flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church". Some may remember the fracas over La Sierra University science faculty teaching science instead of church-endorsed myth that got a lot of people all heated up and ready to burn those evilutionist professors at the stake. Well, the university finally bowed to pressure and announced it would comply with the church's demands. The article I've linked to reports that the university has been given until the second quarter of next year to show its compliance with church dogma by the Adventist Accrediting Association.

I find it kind of ironic that people who clamor for science curricula to "teach the controversy" are so close minded themsselves when it comes to a scientific theory that has been studied, ratified and approved by the majority of biological scientists in the world. Church heads should never have the right to dictate what science professors teach in their lecture halls. Outside of church-affiliated organisations, I doubt La Sierra graduates are able to get a job anywhere.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sabbath School 26/02/11 - It's the Devil's Work Part II

I know, I'm posting this a little late, but I had to make some finishing touches on my entry to the fiction competition I'm participating in before the deadline, then when I got round to writing this I had to keep pausing to play some death metal in order to bleed off some of the rage caused by watching the videos I talk about here. This last blessed Sabbath's lesson was one I simply could not pass up the opportunity to comment on. The title was "Self Esteem", and the lesson touched briefly on the issue of origins. Frankly, I wasn't much surprised by the treatment the issue was given, but thought it worthy of mention.

The lesson itself presents the usual strawman of evolution we see from religious sources, using such charming terms as "pure chance", "cosmic accident" and "we just happened to come into existence". Note that it does not even attempt to adress any questions of evidence: all the counterarguments are emoti0nal, mostly focussed on how we eviutionists live purposeless lives and that believing the magic man blew on a pile of mud to make us gives us soooo much more self esteem. The series of lessons is centered on emotions anyway, so I won't hold that against them. It's the validity of the arguments that I have a problem with. (I'll address that later)

The exegeses of the lesson given on the Church's two main media conduits was, however, nothing short of delirious. There are two main programs that go over the lesson every week, one on each of the two major Adventist satellite channels, 3ABN and the Hope Channel, called Amazing Facts Central Study Hour and Hope Sabbath School respectively. I'll start with Central Study Hour.





Origins is addressed only on one day - sunday - one seventh of the total lesson. When Doug Bachelor attacked it, it ended up becoming a rant that took up almost half the lesson time (From the 16:38 mark to38.30). And damn me to the void if there's anyone more adept at building a strawman than Pastor Doug. He began by giving a beautiful, flowery picture of what life as a creation of God is like, so much so that I almost found myself wishing I was one of them (no, I lie. But it sure must have worked on the faithful). Then he proceeded to build up his combustible, very well ventilated man of straw, douse it in petrol and set it alight.

I'm really not swayed by the extreme contrast presented by Pastor Doug. In fact, I can give an even better one supporting and evolutionary perspectie. Here goes:

"One paradigm says that you are the product of an epic and grand story stretching back billions of years and are intricately connected to your surroundings and the universe as a whole. You know, someone asked me, "are we really products of the Universe?" And I said hell yes! He said, "How do you know," and I said we are made of exactly the same elements as the rest of the universe and in the exact same proportions. I think that's rock solid proof. Our body chemistry isn't based on, say bismuth. We're exactly the same, and we share this similarity with all the life forms we know here on Earth. Look at that paradigm, that would give us a sense of wonder and humility and an almost spiritual connection with all that exists. (see )

"Compare that with the other paradigm that says that some invisible magic man made us from dirt and that our first ancestors damned both themselves and all their descendants to a life of misery and death by eating a fruit given to them by a talking snake. It says that we are all sinners from birth and our lives have no purpose but to atone and suffer for that sin, and when you die, depending on if you accepted this far fetched (and I'm being nice here), unverifiable story you will either spend eternity glorifying and praising the magic man who put you in that situation, or if you didn't you will be cast into a lake of burning sulphur to die a horribly painful and final death (the Adventist doctrine on hell)."

There's more to be said about emotional arguments against naturalism and evolution, and I shall adress it later. Pastor Doug then went on to state that belief in evolution correlates with suicide, stating that the high suicide rates observed in adolescents is due to questions regarding origins. I don't think that's entirely correct. It's true, higher suicide rates are observed among those without religious affiliation, but I doubt very much that it's because of evolution. I'm more for the theory that higher suicide and depression rates are the result of a lack of a social support group as is present in religious congregations (pretty much the only thing we secularists need to learn from them). A whole hunch of arguments not really worth rehashing followed, including his own personal story, the argument from design, conflating Nazism and eugenics with evolution, invoking a scientific conspiracy (*facepalm*) and a modified argument from morality (if we are animals, we should act like animals).

There are a couple of other points I do find worth mentioning, though. One is Pastor Doug's assertion that a lot of smart people can be wrong about something. They once were, a few centuries ago, when they worked exclusively from a divine assumption. When they realised that the facts did not support their assumptions they changed their tactics, finding facts to draw assumptions from, instead of trying to find facts to fit with their conclusions. For example, the Old Earth theory was formulated by religious geologists who originally had the intention of finding evidence for a recent, global flood. When they did not fnd that evidence they changed their conclusions to ones that were supported by the facts. (reference)

The second point I found highly ironic. I don't remember the point he was making (and I'm too lazy to hunt for it in the video), but he said something about how prisoners who are so used to a life of crime often relapse after they have been released. I found this to be quite synonymous wiith what happens all too often with religion. A person has taken their first tentative steps towards freedom from religion, but because they are so used to religious life, be it because of vigorous indoctrination and brainwashing, sudden loss of the social framework or simple fondness of tradition they end up falling back into the pit they were trying to crawl out of.

(http://media.forestlakechurch.org/content/media/2011q102-26-self-esteem - the Hope Sabbath School video)

Next, I'll talk about Hope Sabbath School. Not much was covered here that wasn't already spoken about in CSH - social Darwinism, lack of accountability etc, plus a few Creo favorites: a perversion of my previous point about presuppositions i.e. that evolution works upon the presupposition that there is no God, that evolution requires faith to believe and that we cannot create life from non-life/we do not observe this happening today therefore it cannot have happened in the past.

But Derek Morris (who is such a great singer) and his audience didn't dilly around, virtually stating right out that they would ignore evidence for evolution in favor of what the bible says. Morris gave an anectote about a buddy of his who said something to the tune of, "I have some unanswered questions but I choose to believe what the bible says." That wasn't all, though. He went on to say that if God gave us all the answers we wouldn't understand them, and that Jesus will tell us all about it when he comes. This perpetuation of ignorance is why religion still survives. First of all, I will say that evolution does not rely on faith but on evidence, like any other science. There will always be uncertainties, but they are not simply left as is but actively researched into and ironed out. That's how science in general works, and if you are going to reject evolution, you might as well reject the rest of it as well. Second, I want to ask, if we must simply accept things on faith without giving mind to evidence, what's to stop me from going to any of the other religions that exist? What's to stop me from simply adopting a pantheistic religiosity that gives equal credence to all religions? According to all indicators, Christianity is simply another religion thought up and written by men and with the same shortcomings as all other religions. Therefore, I say there must be some more objective way of determining these things, and empiricism is that way.

Then came the actual Sabbath School on Saturday morning. In contrast to the "pros" the section was given just the time it deserves, but the reactions were no less extreme, if a little less informed. I heard such genius gems as: "God spoke. Monkeys don't speak. Therefore we did not come from monkeys", "have you ever seen a monkey loving another like itself?" (this question could be answered "yes", though I can't find any links supporting it), "my bible is my professor", "who has been redeemed by a monkey/ a scholar?", "If evolution is continuous, why have we stopped evolving?" and so on ad infinitum. Then came the very crux of the whole anti-evolution movement. The teacher simply didn't hold back, stating out-and-out that "Darwin was a servant of the Devil!".

Overall, this lesson was handled in a manner typical of that always used by Adventists: make emotional arguments backed by the bible or prophesy and ignore all evidence. Of course, they do have their creation "science" disinfo programs, like the Celebration of Creation series on the Hope channel, and I've caught a number of documentaries on 3ABN spouting the "Australopithecus was fully ape" claim and they also sometimes play Robert Gentry's long debunked videos. In reality, they are really vanity affairs simply affirming what the Big Guns say - it is the main church body itself that has the last word. When you see pastors telling biology professors how to do their job, you know they've strayed from fact and truth.

As I have stated before, emotional arguments hold no water in the light of evidence. The gist of this whole lesson was "creationism makes me feel good, therefore I will believe in it". Well, geocentricism may have felt good in the 16th century, but that still did not make it correct. Evolution is a matter of science and says nothing about self worth, self esteem and stuff like that. You may take what you like from it, but don't say it forced it on you. I don't think these fellows realise that as much as they deny the fact that we each make our own purpose in life, they are themselves making their own purpose by accepting their religion. One would think that if Christianity was the one true religion and Christian creationism the one true doctrine, then members of other religions would be suffering the same "insecurities" and "low self esteem" we atheistic evilutionists do. But they don't (and we don't), therefore it is easy to deduce that all religons have the same merits. Once again, it boils down to a social support structure.

As my earlier monologue demonstrated, it's all a matter of perspective. But I will still say that if there is any self esteem destroying belief system, it is Christianity. One of its core tenets is that we are all dirty, worthless sinners because of the actions of a distant ancestor we've never met and all deserve to suffer and die. And boy am I glad I stopped believing in that a long time ago.

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This post from Pharyngula very aptly describes my experience regarding Adventists and Evolution. All baseless assertions and no science.

Monday, January 3, 2011

"It's the Devil's work!"

Watched a bit of the 2011 Generation of Youth for Christ conference on 3ABN, one of the SDA church's TV channels last Saturday. Okay, wasn't watching it as such but the TV was on while I was reading some satanic epic fantasy sci-fi stuff. A few things that were said did catch my attention though. One fellow stood up and said something to the tune of, "once Jesus comes into your heart, you stop believing in Evolution". One of the panel speakers took that up immediately, recounting his own experiences, and how his conversion led him to immediately cease to accept evolution. He does not mention whether he went through any process of scientific enquiry and logical deduction to get to that decision, and I'll refrain from speculating on whether he did.

But this enlightened me on the nature of the denialist's arguments against evolution, cosmic origins and pretty much all of established science. It's not based on their skewed parody science, or any form of reasoning, but simply upon a preconceived idea that immediately blocks the mind against any form of evidence that might appear to the contrary.

Later that evening, the president of the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (I still haven't gotten the hang of his name) came on. Once again I didn't pay attention to much of it save for one particular bit. He quoted something from the Adventist's lucky charm, Ellen G. White, from her book on education if I remember right. It said something about science being constrained to being unable to provide anything contrary to the word of God. But what of when it does contradict scripture, as it so obviously and glaringly does? This question is not adressed.

But I have a feeling what the answer would be. The crux of the above arguments is simple: if it does not agree with what we teach, it must be the Devil's work. Never mind all these things the scientists give you as "proof" or "facts" or whatever - they are all at the thrall of Satan. This is something that's been a recurring theme of debates with my Adventist buddies, characterised by appeals to motive and the like. It's not unique to Adventists either, with one series of dinosaur-woo videos terming evolution "Satan's most successful lie".

The implications of this are great. This belief serves as justification for every half-truth, untruth and downright lie the anti-evolution crowd has ever spouted, for if you have decided, without evidence, that something is a lie, then whatever is its opposite is justifiable in your mind as the truth.

There's another reason why opposing evolution regardless of the evidence is such an important thing for Adventists. The Seventh-Day Adventist movement is based upon the pretext that Saturday, the seventh day, is the day of rest decreed by the Lord. It's what sets them apart, makes them special when compared to the rest of the world. This, of course, hinges upon a very literal reading of Genesis, for if God did not create the world in six days, he had no reason to rest on the seventh and hence the Church's entire raison d'etre vanishes in a whiff of smoke(It's even part of their dogma, as espoused in their sixth Fundamental Belief, Creation). This, I believe, is a major weakness in the church's belief system. Reason would have it that if some evidence came up challenging your beliefs, it would be a wiser choice to alter your beliefs to accommodate that evidence, rather than dismissing that evidence offhand. Or even worse, making up all sorts of questionable claims to try to justify your stubborn adherence to disproven beliefs.

A further indictment on the Church's stand is that they really don't need a literal six day creation to continue worshipping as they do. But that's something I'd rather leave them to duke out among themselves.