## 25. If the earth is 6,000 years old, how can we see stars more than 6,000 light years away?

This is a common question in youth groups across America, where about half of us still believe the Universe was created fewer than 10,000 years ago.

The problem is that light waves/photons travel at a known rate of 186,282 miles per second. At that rate, it takes light from our sun 8 minutes to reach earth. It takes 4 years from the nearest star, and 100,000 years to cross our galaxy. And that’s just the local stuff. It takes 25 million years for light to reach us from the nearby Andromeda galaxy, and 13.5 billion years from the furthest observed galaxy.

But if the Universe is only 6,000 years old, we shouldn’t be able to see anything beyond 6,000 light years.

As a young Christian, the explanation I heard most often was that “God wanted us to be able to enjoy the stars, so when he created the earth and the stars, he also created the light waves in-between.” I later realized this view led to some pretty strange conclusions.

See that star?  It doesn’t exist.

I first realized there was a problem with this view while learning about one method astronomers use to measure large distances. The method works by observing a star that has recently gone supernova. When it does, it can emit as much energy as it did over its entire lifetime, resulting in a tremendous burst of light. Scientists figured out that if they multiplied the speed of light by how long it takes this burst to illuminate nearby objects, they could calculate the distance between those objects. They could also triangulate the distance from earth.

Traveling at 186,282 miles per second, light from a supernova takes several months to reach surrounding material.  The star went supernova in 166,000 BC.

The closest supernova we’ve observed in this way is in a nearby dwarf galaxy 168,000 light years away (left). It took the light several months to reach some surrounding gas and dust, proving that the distances were ginormous.

But, according to my Creationist view, the event you see to the left never actually happened. There was no supernova, no illumination of gases, not even the original star! It was all just a back-story that God weaved into the light waves between us and the star.

The problem with this view is that it implies the entire history of our Universe is a total charade. We might as well accuse God of faking all the fossil evidence to make the earth look older, or because he thought we might enjoy looking at old bones.

Additionally, if these light waves are only for our benefit, why even bother creating the Universe at all? All God really needs is a few thousand years of light waves to convince us the Universe exists.

Christianity Evolves

In recent years, Young Earth Creationists (YECs) have backed away from this explanation. ChristianAnswers.net admits that forging an entire universe “would be a strange deception,” and AnswersInGenesis.org agrees that “It seems uncharacteristic of God to make illusions like this.”

So… how did the light get here?

Distance = Velocity x Time (D = vt)

If questioning the Bible’s accuracy is off limits, we must seriously tweak either the Distance, Velocity, and/or Time involved in this simple equation.

Distance

AnswersInGenesis.org says that the distances astronomers are coming up with are “logical and scientifically sound,” and ChristianAnswers.net agrees that ”There is good evidence that our own Milky Way galaxy is 100,000 light years across.”  So there’s no disagreement here.

Velocity (The Speed of Light)

The idea that the speed of light once traveled much, much faster fell out of favor as creationists realized the speed of light is involved with every physical processes. AnswersInGenesis.org puts it this way: “The speed of light is not an ‘arbitrary’ parameter… changing the speed of light would cause other things to change as well.”

Time

General relativity does allow objects that are closer to a source of gravity to move slower through time than objects that are further away. However, it would take an insane amount of gravity around the earth to cram 13.7 billion years into just 6 earth days. Luckily, Creationists are insane willing to try.

Creationist and physicist Dr. John Hartnett suggests “universal time” sped up on the 4th day of creation, due to some 5th dimension caused by God stretching out the universe. (Hartnett says it took him a few years to fully understand it, but I just don’t have that much time.)

D.R. Humphreys shares a similar view, which employs a finite gravitational well “near critical density.” He believes our entire universe is surrounded by water (based on Psalm 148:4) and that the earth is near the center. He also believes that Earth’s time slowed to a crawl on the 4th day as God stretched out the Universe, allowing billions of cosmic years to pass in a mere 24 earth hours.

(You can watch Dr. John Hartnett and Dr. Russell Humphreys discuss their Bible-based views here.)

But if both theories rely on God miraculously stretching out the universe, it seems that we’ve only exchanged one miraculous explanation for another.

Other variations on the time theme include:

1) A gravitational well that allows the cosmos to age millions of years for each earth year,
2) Very liberal interpretations of the word “day” in Genesis, and
3) Possible rifts in the space-time continuum caused by Dr. Emmett Brown’s time travel experiments in the 1980s.

The real heart of the matter

There’s really no good reason to go challenging the speed of distant starlight… unless you’re trying to make the Universe fit a preconceived notion.

AnswersInGenesis.org admits that creation scientists are still researching solutions to the distant starlight problem, but nevertheless concludes: “The only way to know about the past for certain is to have a reliable historic record written by an eyewitness. That is exactly what we have in the Bible.”

CA.net echos this sentiment, saying “By basing our scientific research on the assumption that His Word is true… our scientific theories are much more likely… to accurately represent reality.”

So, while I hate to go off-topic, we can’t really address these Creationist views without backing up a bit and examining the underlying assumption that the Bible is a reliable source of scientific information. So let’s take a quick look…

Science and the Bible

As far as I can tell, the Bible establishes its scientific authority without actually demonstrating any advanced scientific knowledge.

If the Bible said “And God set the earth spinning on its side to the number 23, and then sent it circling around the sun every 365 days and 1 part of 4″ we’d have a pretty dang good reason for considering the Bible’s views over our own observations. But it doesn’t.

Instead, the Bible establishes its scientific credibility by demonstrating strength in other areas, namely prophecy and miracles (and possibly personal revelation). So the YEC is actually extrapolating that things like the 6 day creation are true because God has scored well in other areas.

And I can actually see the logic to this. After all, if the Bible can consistently make detailed predictions, or show evidence by miracles, then maybe it’s not unreasonable to assume it’s coming from a higher source. But we must be very careful here, because these same abilities have been claimed by many others, and God no longer provides such clear demonstrations today. Also, if God can predict the future and perform miracles, it’s very suspicious that he’s unable to detail His own creation.

So, if the Bible is true, it is extremely unfortunate that God should choose to establish His authority through such questionable proofs (I’ll dwell more on these proofs later).

Faith bias vs. Naturalist bias

Most Creationist freely admit their Biblical bias. If evidence runs contrary to the Bible, it is the evidence that must be reinterpreted (not the Bible).

We see a similar problem with Mormons and their “Book of Mormon bias,” which tells them to believe that Native Americans are Jewish descendants. When modern DNA evidence proved that Native Americans were of Asian ancestry (and they hadn’t so much as licked a Jew), Mormons insisted the evidence was wrong and must be reinterpreted. Their religious bias prevented them from seeing the obvious truth. (The LDS church later settled on changing the Book of Mormon to suggest that only some Native Americans were of Jewish decent, though no Jewish DNA has ever been found).

So you can see the pattern here: Creationists see nothing wrong with having a Biblical bias, because they know it’s true; and Mormons see nothing wrong with having a Book of Mormon bias, because they know it’s true; and Muslims see nothing wrong with having a Qur’an bias, because they know it’s true, and Scientologists see nothing wrong with having a Dianetics bias, because they know it’s true, and so on. But are these religious biases actually leading everyone to truth? Or just an illusion of having truth?

AnswersInGenesis.org points out that scientists are also biased by “naturalist assumptions.” Scientists too see nothing wrong with their naturalist bias, because they know it’s true. I think the key distinction here is that scientists are letting the evidence lead the story, rather than letting the story lead the evidence. And the evidence suggests that we live in a natural world ruled by natural laws.

“The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common, they don’t alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views.”  ~Dr. Who

Conclusion

What I love about Young Earth Creationism is that there is such a huge difference between the amount of time Scientists and Creationists allow. Surely there lmust be some good evidence to support one extreme over the other. I believe distant starlight is just one such piece of evidence.

If the Bible is true, we might expect to see new stars coming into view each night, as their 6,000 year-old light finally touches earth. This is how science should be confirming the Biblical story. But when evidence demonstrates otherwise, rather than accept the evidence, many Christians prefer to believe the Universe is an elaborate illusion, or they question the rigidity of time itself, or rely on other miraculous explanations.

If science is right, we see distant objects because they exist, and have existed for a long time.

I’d have to conclude that our ability to view distant starlight strongly suggests the universe is very old. If it is not old, then God has deceived us with an elaborate and contrary illusion.  And why would God lie?

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### 100 Responses to 25. If the earth is 6,000 years old, how can we see stars more than 6,000 light years away?

1. rautakyy says:

Science is all about finding out the objective truth, but one never gets anywhere close to any objective truth, if one sets as an infallible source one particular “eyewittness account”. That is not science, even if those who do so have university degrees, it is mere propaganda. And it is most political in nature, as it beckons people to accept ancient values as valid now in a post-modern society, by the authority of the same book that is in contradiction with so much scientific research as made in thousands of generations since the book was written.

This is all about moralism, and leadership. The book does not give authority to a god. If there was a god, it would certainly not need a book to base its authority on, but if there are just men who want to be demagogues, it is important for them to have an infallible source of authority. So, morals in a society would not be determined by emphaty and ethics, but by some written word that givest these individuals the power (and quite nice living as well) as mediators between human kind and an alledged god.

To me it seems frightening, how this new creationism myth is spreading within the otherwise civilized and secular western societes, but I guess it is natural that the religious leaders of minor and more fanatical sects would do anything from their adherents from questioning their authority. It is obvious that the major religions do not mind accepting and embracing scientific world view, as their political and especially economical support comes from masses that are not so interrested in the religious fancy. From people who are adherents of certain religious sects only because that is their cultural inheritance. It is the minor sects with members who show actual interrest to the supernatural, who are the most alarmed by how scientific research results challenge the mythical absolutist world view given by the holy books and teachings made by the understanding of the universe as it was seen in the ancient times, with the limited information they then posessed. So, in a way creationism is just a counter reaction for too much information.

I have recently ran into creationists who are absolutely (no surprice there) against any possibility of a nother intelligent life form in the universe. This is quite interresting, as it is as if they did not quite percieve how wide the universe is. Where does it say in the Bible, that the god did not duplicate the Earth. That Jesus did not go to salvage for example some insectoid and even space bourne culture from “sin”? Maybe there is paradise on some other planet because the “Adam” and “Eve” of that other world did not falter to follow gods orders, and they have lived for ever and ever? If god had inspired the ancient Jewish scribes to write such things down, how would they have understood that message? Would it have been totally outside their comprehension?

Is there life on Kepler 22b? If so is it intelligent? Why would there not be? Is there intelligent life on Earth?

• Creationism seems to be trending downward here in the US. In 2010, only 40% (the lowest ever) agreed with the idea that God created human beings in their present form 10,000 years ago. That was down from 47% in 1999. I wonder if the Internet had anything to do with that, since it’s now much easier to get both sides of the story. Also, the Internet seems to have given atheists, agnostics and skeptics a voice (seeing as how they don’t exactly meet up on Sundays to exchange views).

As for life on other planets, I think (unfortunately) intelligent life is probably rare. All life on earth shares similar DNA, suggesting we all came from a single source (i.e. life isn’t arising from multiple sources). But the fact that we’re here is proof that such a thing can happen (though most life isn’t very intelligent).

I can see how the idea of intelligent life on other planets could be distressing to some Christians. The more intelligent life you have out there, the less likely it is that the universe was made just for us, or that Jesus died for the sins of everyone on every world. But if there is a God, it still seems odd that He would create billions of unreachable galaxies for human benefit. It’s almost like there’s something He’s not telling us.

• Hendrik says:

Creation, humans included is all for the enjoyment of GOD, not humans. I would rather live with the idea that there is a God, Jesus Christ who has the power to throw those against HIM in the place place called Hell- prepared for the most intelligent and informed being ever- satan and those who sided with him, and seem unintelligent to God’s current enemies who really are offensive so that they may enjoy their immoral sensual appetites, telling themselves there ire no consequenses. And scientists seek in vain to explain everything by natural laws, since creation is fallen, and GOD doesn’t need to proof Himself to anyone. The natural laws of this creation- which is passing will only be understood in light of spiritual law. He says you will only find Him through faith- a spiritual law. Jesus said it that the earth would not be large enough to contain all the books of the things He done, He is eternal. He does not force Himself on man’s freedom of choice. You must choose. ..What if you were wrong and you spend eternity in torment of your spirit, soul, body ? There are people who never believed in any religion, died and was sent back by this shining being- Jesus Christ to warn people that Hell and Heaven is real. Weigh the benefits of the Scientific- proof life with the life of living as a christian, with it’s promise of eternal glorious life. I myself have been from athiest through other ‘religions’, and following Jesus Christ is not a religion, it is a real relationship. Even if you can proof some of the Bible wrong- ask yourself, what if it was not wrong, and there is an eternity after this life and you made the wrong choice ? Just ask Jesus Christ- the risen lamb of Jahweh to reveal Himself to you if He is real now, you have nothing to loose by asking

• Howdy Hendrik,

What you’re expressing here is a fear fallacy, which motivates people to think one way because it makes them afraid to think another. But this same kind of threat exists in other religions and denominations, too. Muslims will tell you that you’ll constantly have your flesh burned off in the afterlife if you believe Jesus is God. And different denominations of Christianity will that tell you if you’re not saved, or don’t believe the way they do, you will go to hell.

By trying to threaten (“warn”) other people of hell, it tells me that your fear of hell is what motivates your thinking (at least in part). If I DO believe, it will be because it makes reasonable sense, and not because I’m afraid to think otherwise. And if I DO choose to love God, it will be because he’s a really great bloke and deserves my love, not because I have a gun to my head.

Personally, I have difficulty believing a God of love would create us with the foreknowledge that most of us would “spend eternity in torment.” This is a logical contradiction, you can’t have a God who IS love making people and condemning them to eternal torment. A God of love would either choose NOT to create them, or simply banish them from existence. End of story.

• Carol says:

I am curious about the population being an evolutionist. For those who believe god created all humans from Adam and Eve, about 6000 years ago. If they had a child every lets say, 10 months, what is the population supposed to be today?? My maths isn’t capable of working this out.

• Sterling Bennett says:

Could we stop looking at the scientific view of things and just accept his word for what it is…..His Word!!! Please explain to me how there is other intelligent life and this other evidence your speaking, because your obviously confused about what you’re trying to explain……God is not a God of confusion or deception or lies, so he will never lie to you…never, ever, ever!!

• rautakyy says:

We, could stop looking at teh scientific view of things, but that would lead us nowhere, exept perhaps ignorance, suffering and pain. Science is the method we have, that actually provides any reliable source of how the reality around is.

During history great human civilizations have given up scientific research in favour of taking religious scripture at face value. This happened, for example, when the crusades hit the Islamic world, which had been at the leading edge of scientific and philosophical research up to that point of history. And now look how the Islamic countries are faring. Before that it happened when the Roman empire turned to Christianity. What followed was a terrible step back from the research edge of the antiquity, for some 1000 years of what we now call “the dark ages”, for a good reason.

We do not know, for sure, if there is other intelligent life in the universe, but even though the odds of life at all emerging are “rare” in the harsh conditions of the universe, the vast scale of the universe makes it more than likely, that it has emerged several times during the billions of years we now DO know the universe has existed. Our current knowledge of the frequency of amino acids, Sol-like stars, and Terra-like planets and the age of the universe makes it even more than propable, that there are other life quite much like ours and possibly even intelligent beings in our own galaxy. That is by no account near to us, but it raises the question of the uniqueness of mankind, when we know there are billions of galaxies.

• Agreed.

If ours was the only solar system it would actually make creation seem more probable. But in a Universe as huge (and I mean HUGE… I don’t think we can even begin to grasp how huge it really is) as ours, given as much time as it has, odds are that lots of unlikely combinations of molecules are going to occur. If you get some molecules to combine in such a way that they can make copies of themselves, they can begin to build on that pattern, and this is what we’re still doing today, making copies of ourselves, with just enough variation to allow for the diversification of species.

With all due respect to Sterling Bennett, just accepting that the Bible is God’s word is a problem. If we just accept this, how do we know the Quran or the Book of Mormon isn’t also God’s word? How do we make the determination what passes and what doesn’t? What is it about the Bible that makes it so improbable that it MUST be God’s word? Miracles? A certain prophecy? The way reading it makes you feel?

• sterling says:

I’m going to leave the same comment I left Alex

Science is used in the the 6 days of creation (creates the outer space which is a big part of science)
Not only the 6 days of creation, but throughout the bible
*He did the first surgery (taking a rib from Adam and replacing it with flesh)
*People with psychological illnesses
*countless other examples
But what you’re doing is trying to explain God from a scientific stand point when you can’t explain something that created you. Are you still reading?? God created time, space, and matter, which is how everything came into existence.

“In the beginning (time), God created heaven (space) and the earth (matter).”

We have 3 heavens:
Heaven 1: where the birds fly
Heaven 2: Outer space
Heaven 3: God’s heaven, where our are home is

There is science that explains some things and Faith does the rest
So don’t try to explain God (that created science and us) with science.
Just tell how can you explain a creator that was never created?!?!? But has always existed and loves both you and me!!! Just because we were created doesn’t mean God was.

• sterling says:

And a Satanist wrote every new revised version of the corrupt Greek texts of the King James version Bible….A buddy of mine met the Satanist man that rewrote those versions and brought with him an original King James version Bible ( not the New King James version Bible because he rewrote it from the original) and the Satanist man said that he didn’t want the Bible near him and that it couldn’t come into his office building, he said all the other versions are allowed but that one….So that makes you wonder if God’s word is true or that man was just “book” biased <—-stupid right?…..God's word is true, you just can't believe what "paper-stated" intelligent people say with plain old white coats….I respect Scientist, but when you mess with God's word, it's a whole 'nother thing

Mormon's don't believe there is a Hell, just that everyone goes to Heaven, but at different levels….even the rapist, and murders, and back-stabbing friends that you see everyday get to go Heaven….doesn't sound right does it???

The Islamic faith believe that Mohammad was the true God and that Jesus was just and ordinary prophet that was killed by having a case of bad luck, I suppose….they are denying there Father in so many ways that I can't even count

Please don't do the same route as them…..I have never been on this site before, but by the grace of God I have, and I believe it was for everyone that I comment to on here….Please listen to me, and come back to your Heavenly father, please!

• rautakyy says:

@Sterling. Satanists, Mormons and Muslims are just as wrong as the Christians. They all believe there are these entites, that are not part of the physical observable nature and make wild claims about them. None of them has any actual evidence to offer for their existance, but they all demand faith in the books obviously written by men.

By the way, you got it wrong about the Muslims. They do not think Mohammed was a god, but a man chosen by Allah (their version of a creator god) to convey his message to the mankind. They regard Jesus as just a nother prophet, because in their religion it is sacriligious to think, that the creator of the universe would have had demigod sons like the Jesus Christians believe in. The Muslims are mostly adherents of their own cultural tradition just like you Christians are yours. Both of you have as little evidence to produce to back up these wild claims about a god. Right?

It is exactly because the Muslims think, that Mohammed was a mere mortal, that they are not supposed to make any images of him, so that people would not worship an image of a mere man.

The Mormons believe in their version of Christianity just as sincerely as you believe in yours and propably just for the same reasons. What kind of god would be evil enough to punish them for that?

Why does it not sound right to you, that a rapist and a murderer would not go to heaven? Is it not forgiveness, that Jesus supposedly preached? That it is not even important what you do in life, as long as you believe he was the son of a god? Because, everyone is allready somehow deserving of hell, because of the bad choises of some ancestors? Is it not the repentance and trust in Jesus, that alledgedly gets you to heaven and not your good deeds (like in Islam), according to Christianity?

I have never had back-stabbing friends. But then, most of my friends are secular humanists and it kinda goes against that.

• rautakyy says:

@Sterling, Sterling, science is the human method of studying material reality, based on evidence and logic. It is not some superpower used by any unnatural entities beyond material reality.

Faith is the belief in things, that there is no evidence of. Well, exept anecdotal evidence often in the form of ancient cultural heritage from times when sciece was not that advanced, so people made a lot of uneducated guesses about things they could not study, or explain.

Our environment created us, but that was not an intelligent process. That is where the scientific evidence and study of it has led us. And we can explain plenty of that process nowadays.

• sterling says:

I’m going to leave the same comment I left Alex and 500 questions

Science is used in the the 6 days of creation (creates the outer space which is a big part of science)
Not only the 6 days of creation, but throughout the bible
*He did the first surgery (taking a rib from Adam and replacing it with flesh)
*People with psychological illnesses
*countless other examples
But what you’re doing is trying to explain God from a scientific stand point when you can’t explain something that created you. Are you still reading?? God created time, space, and matter, which is how everything came into existence.

“In the beginning (time), God created heaven (space) and the earth (matter).”

We have 3 heavens:
Heaven 1: where the birds fly
Heaven 2: Outer space
Heaven 3: God’s heaven, where our are home is

There is science that explains some things and Faith does the rest
So don’t try to explain God (that created science and us) with science.
Just tell how can you explain a creator that was never created?!?!? But has always existed and loves both you and me!!! Just because we were created doesn’t mean God was.

I don’t dismiss science but I simply dismiss the comments of trying to explain a Holy God so our CARNAL minds can understand why we’re here and what do we do from this point on….I’ll tell you this….you here to learn about, fall in love with, and live for a loving God….his love for you is much stronger than your Mothers, he sticks closer to you than a brother

Science can’t explain that, can it?????

• Alex says:

Is this Sterling fellow joking? I will assume he is. I’m guessing you don’t discredit the “science” that drives you to church on Sunday.

To Quote:
“Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them.”

• Anonymous says:

Alex, I’m not joking
Science is used in the the 6 days of creation (creates the outer space which is a big part of science)
Not only the 6 days of creation, but throughout the bible
*He did the first surgery (taking a rib from Adam and replacing it with flesh)
*People with psychological illnesses
*countless other examples
But what you’re doing is trying to explain God from a scientific stand point when you can’t explain something that created you. Are you still reading?? God created time, space, and matter, which is how everything came into existence.

“In the beginning (time), God created heaven (space) and the earth (matter).”

We have 3 heavens:
Heaven 1: where the birds fly
Heaven 2: Outer space
Heaven 3: God’s heaven, where our are home is

There is science that explains some things and Faith does the rest
So don’t try to explain God (that created science and us) with science.
Just tell how can you explain a creator that was never created?!?!? But has always existed and loves both you and me!!! Just because we were created doesn’t mean God was.

• Anonymous says:

the anonymous above is me Sterling

• Anonymous says:

2. Why not do it like this fellow? says:

If creationism is too much to swallow you can do like this dude Francis Collins:

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1259/can-science-and-faith-be-reconciled

Why is it so threatening if someone likes to believe otherwise than official science allows? Now ruling masses is not an viable argument here. We have MANY non religious ideologies that have turned in to a bloodbath as well. Christianity at least does some good in this world. Many times in places that no one else wants to have anything do with.

So how about having some peace for a change?

• Thanks, that was a really interesting article.

It’s interesting how Frances Collins sounds so much like most agnostics/atheists, except for his belief in a creator of the Universe. He asks “Why is there something instead of nothing?” but we could just as easily ask “Why is there a God instead of no God?” He says God is good at physics, but how does God “just know” physics? He talks about Ockham’s Razor, but would still rather believe in an extremely complex God “just existing” than basic elements “just existing.”

But what I find most telling about Collins is that he not only believes that something created the Universe, but he also somehow concludes that the same creator also authored the Christian Bible. Not only that, but the creator gets the 6 day creation wrong… and evolution wrong… yet is still considered legit! It’s hard not to see Collins as a man biased by religion.

I don’t have anything against religion, I’m just interested in finding the truth for myself. Although… if the truth can be known with some degree of accuracy… it does seem right that this is the kind of information we should be passing on to future generations. If we were to find out that someone was teaching their kids that Zeus was god, it may fall under freedom of religion, but borders on psychological abuse.

So while a compromise between science and religion (if it were even possible) might bring peace, I don’t think it would equal truth. For example, if some say 1+1=2, and others say 1+1=4, then we can’t compromise and say 1+1=3. That answer might make people happy, but it’s not the truth. Truth is truth, and it shouldn’t be compromised.

• Why not do it like this fellow? says:

That 3 may be the only possible solution we have available currently:

Now if you have a better way of doing things than peace I’d like to hear it please. Is peace not an viable goal in on itself?

So how do we arrange this mess that we call humanity then? Why does it matter wether bible is true or not? And if you think that God is not true what is then the alternative way of doing things? Atheism is not answering BIG questions any better than any of the religions I think.

Consentrate answering these big questions instead of attacking religions just for the fun of it and you get my respect. You can say that this is an light hearted look at religion and you are just searching for answers here. But underneath all that light heartedness there are some very serious issues.

My thinking goes like this: If we don’t find some common ground on these arguments between science and religion we are surely in for a bad ride indeed. Absolute world views need to find a way of having a peaceful co existence and some basic toleration of each other and they need to find it soon. There are more pressing issues in this world than is bible to be taken literally or not.

• Well… I’m not exactly trying to bring about world peace, but I’ll give it a shot.

Personally, I think it starts with everyone treating others the way we want to be treated. Especially if this is the only life we have, we ought to make every effort to make sure humans enjoy this experience as much as possible. I think desiring that for others is a sign of maturity.

But then again, my wife is a Fundamentalist Christian, and we disagree on a number of things, but still find a way to live in peace despite our religious differences. So… maybe the secret to peace is sex. Maybe if, say, Jews and Palestinians started having sex with each other… everything would work itself out.

But seriously, while I may disagree with others, I wish them nothing but joy and contentment (because that’s what I want for myself). I don’t hate people, I hate ideas that hurt people. We humans should be free to throw around crazy ideas and disagree with each other, but our disagreements should never, EVER end in violence. Violence should be a universal no-no. I’m not sure you could get religious extremists to agree to all of that, but I can dream.

But I’m an optimist, I’d like to think the human race is evolving and will eventually learn to work together for the good of all mankind.

Peace!

• Why not do it like this fellow? says:

Now that is an high and noble goal and I agree wholeheartedly with you. Especially on that non violence part. But unfortunately us humans have not shown any signs of evolving. We are not angry apes but somehow we seem to have a way of distorting everything for worse (original sin anyone?). When it comes to moral and ethics, well I’d like to live in a wold like that. You see I do think that politics and religion do not mix well. But unfortunately you and I seem to be in a minority in this planet of ours. And our 1.5 child policy will make sure that we are outbred in a generation or two. So I guess this issue will be resolved for good shortly anyways.

So I’m a realist. Enter quote from Lord May:

“Given that punishment is a useful mechanism, how much more effective it would be if you invested that power not in an individual you don’t like, but an all-seeing, all powerful deity that controls the world,”

Human ethics do not make the cut when we are speaking about maintaining order in societies. We tried it without religion recently. It was called communism and we saw where that went. Besides religion is not disappearing any time soon. I guess you know the stats but here goes:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm

so we need ways to reconcile between different ways of looking at the world. And throwing rocks at christianity from the atheist bunker is not helping at all. So if you feel a need to de-construct something you’d better come up with something else to replace it. All we have form scientific wold wiew until now is just fracturing of societies. We are given nothing in return for our loss of unity that came from having a same religion. Now I know it was not perfect but it worked. Dreaming is unfortunately not going anywhere.

And let’s speak in a language of ethics without any religious bias while we are at it. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:

Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

So while you guys (500 light hearted questions and rautakyy) have your right of free speech I have my right to believe anything I like. If that is creationism so be it. I immediately start to see a very dark future if we start to deny people freedom they have to worship anything they like. I see malign intent if “scientific” world wiew is the only accepted norm. So mister rautakyy. Are you proposing maybe all the creationists should be put in a nice little camp somewhere. Somewhere remote where they can do no harm perhaps? Now I think I heard talk that somewhere before..

Peace

• rautakyy says:

Dear Mr./Mamm “Why not do it like this fellow”, you may have heard ideas of camps before, but from someone else than me. I find it terribly impolite to suggest I had anything to do with such ideas. I have proposed nothing of the kind. Is this not what is called a “strawman”?

I do seek to reconcile between different world views. I at least tried that when I commented that the most senior christian sect has embraced the scientific approach to evolution and the age of the Earth. I could add to that by reminding, that actually all the major christian sects such as the orthodox, anglican and lutheran churches have done exactly the same. None of them seem to have any problems in holding up their faith at the same time they accept the universe is billions of year old. They understand the Bible in more symbolical and mythical terms than the minor sects that still support creationism. I am by no means saying chrisianity, or any other religion is simply evil. They have a lot of good in them too. The major religious sects of christianity seem to see the Bible divided into mythical parts and to the main plot. I can see how that is a bit contradictory, I am an atheist after all. I can live with that. However, fanaticism is allways bad, wether religious or of some other form. Absolutism is easily drawn from absolute moralism and that leads to fanaticism. Religion or idealism do not automatically work that way, but they often do. Idealism is the force that changes the world and hopefully for the better, but we need to recognize the dangers. In my view the idea of creationism is an obvious attempt to turn perfectly normal everyday people into fanatics.

In my opinion the threat creationism poses should be countered on an intellectual level such as blogs like this by our gracious host. But I allready said that, did I not?

There has never been any unified happy one religion society anywhere. There simply is no such historical moment or place, unless we are talking about very small communities indeed. Or has there? Religious unity has allways been achieved by violence against the dissidents. Hence, the whole argument of societes fracturing as a result of science is a form of dreaming of past golden age that never existed. Much like the idea of gods. It is by far more healthier to dream how we could make a better future, than to dream how we could return to a past that was never there.

• Original why not do.. says:

Sorry mr rautakyy. That was a bit too much tongue in a cheek I guess. A lighthearted look in a way I suppose Should have put a smily face after that, but wrote it in a hurry.

But the fact is that creationism is here to stay and you have to deal with it. Creationist folks are not as fanatical and evil as you seem to think. We are actually a quite merry bunch of people Anyone is free to believe this or not (I hope at least) and that is how it should be. Our worldview is just different than yours. You really need to get that idea off your head that:

“creationism is an obvious attempt to turn perfectly normal everyday people into fanatics.”

That is just not true. This is why I made that nasty reference to camps. Thinking like that is a root cause for many a camping episodes in our history. Labeling a certain group evil or an idea fanatical leads to bad, bad places believe me.

And yeah I guess there never was a golden age for humanity. War and strife has always been with us. And you can dream about a better future but that will never happen without God. And if I look in to my bible I see that will never happen in this world but the next. Now is that not sad? But on a level of small communities and individuals we may be able to form small pockets of peace here and there. That is all we can realistically expect. So let’s get to work shall we?

And I need a blog so I can get my nice icon and a name. So people will know me. But I guess that green boxing devil must do until then. That shall be a reminder for all of us that one man’s saint is other man’s devil.

Peace

• On Violence:

For some reason, it’s a popular Christian notion that the world is going to hell in a hand basket (perhaps it’s all that fear-mongering Apocalyptic talk). However, there are many indications that life on earth continues to get better.

Steven Pinker has a great video on the historical decline of violence here.

On Reconciling Science and Religion:

Enter quote from biochemist Fang Zhouzi:

“Religion wants you to believe blindly, while science wants you to doubt, to rely on evidence and logic. They have fundamental conflicts. I have always opposed efforts at reconciliation.”

And Carl Sagan:

“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

But I’m under no delusion that we can (or should) ever rid the world of religion (with the possible exception of protecting the innocent from serious religious abuse).

Someone once said that you shouldn’t support killing all those with opposing views, because you may just change your views! Banning religion bans freedom of thought, so I wholly agree with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though Article 18 should also include freedom from religion.

BTW: some non-religious countries actually do quite well. In fact, some polls show that countries with less religion are also the happiest.

• trent says:

“Bloodbath”? Like the crusades? Christianity does good in places like Africa where AIDS is in epidemic proportions; the pope says,”Condoms are bad.” Is this doing “good”? Religion fails the modern global society test.
Know god; no peace.
No god; know peace.

• Derek says:

Thumbs up to you. I am returning to college for my Masters in Physics Education. I am currently a Earth science, sociology, and English teacher in a suburban NE Ohio public high school. At least once a year, there are students that ask a question that relates to your article. I have to reply as Dr.Rush from Stargate Universe did. He was asked about his thoughts on God and what He can do to help, “I am sorry, I am a scientist. I do not ascribe to fairy tales.” (or something close that). There is always a awe-and-shock effect in the room.
As an extra credit assignment, I ask the class to write at least 2 pages(double spaced) about irrefutable evidence of God (or a deity of their choosing). No one, in my opinion, has.
So, for now on, I am going to use your article. I really love this excerpt of yours,
“Also, if God can predict the future and perform miracles, it’s very suspicious that he’s unable to detail His own creation.”

Lastly, the Dr.Who quote you used his a directly from Socrates.

“I’d rather have a mind opened to wonder, than one closed by belief.” Gerry Spence
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerry_Spence

• Thanks Derek, appreciate it.

I was unable to locate the original version of the quote form Socrates, do you have a link to it? Or the quote itself? I certainly want to give credit where credit is due.

3. rautakyy says:

History teaches us that it is very difficult to make compromises with fanatics, wether they are religious or otherwise crazed. Of course there are more important issues in this world than religion, but it is a strange notion that we should drop everything else just to solve the most important problems. 1+1 =3 on very high values of 1. I think the world has allready shown religion and science can co-exist in the world. Catholicism as one of the most traditional and largest religious systems has allready embraced the theory of evolution. If we now could convince them of the importance of birth controll, the world would surely face a more hopefull future. Population growth is one of the most important issues we are now facing, is it not?

Creationism is a movement against science, and that is why it is harmfull and it cannot be just left alone. It would not be moral, or ethical to leave such a malign intent alone. Science can take critique, and does take critique. In fact that is the nature of science. It evolves through critique. But not all critique is based on research and creationism is a very good example of such. It does not challenge science to a discussion, but keeps declaring “absolute truths” to ordinary and often pre-indoctrinated people, who do not yearn for information, but rather for truth. It is not directed to the conversation of science, but it is propaganda meant for people who do not understand science. That is exactly why such “light hearted” approach to these issues is needed, and I do thank our host for taking these issues up in a way that the common man (such as myself) can understand them. So, they are not confined to the chambers of scientists and pharisees and other interpreters of the scriptured mythos.

Creationism is the biggest conspiracy theory ever, since it claimes the generations of scientific work done since the writing of the Bible is all just forgery and somehow driven by an atheistic paradigm. How could that even be?

Religious people often claim that the justification to faith comes from the need to a source for morals, but that source is within us all and it is called emphaty. Regardless if it is a gift from a creator of the universe to almost all mammals, or not, it is a base on how we make moral choises. By using our emphaty. To better our employment of emphaty through ethics we need information. To make more informed and hence more ethical choises. Science gives actual infromation. The contradiction of religious absolutisms with scientific research have shown us that religions are mere myths. In a myth there is allways a hint of humane truth there also. That is why they are compelling. That and the fact that they gave us answers to questions science could not answer (like where does the lightning come from and what are stars). It is quite OK for the individual people to be mystics, but societes should not choose their future on the mythical assumptions, but by something verifiable.

Peace is a very good goal indeed. Keep it up. Scientific research combined with emphaty tells us that it is a very ethically sound goal for morals.

• Thanks.

And ya… the Catholic church is a bit of an odd-ball. It’s come out in favor of evolution, and an old earth, but still seems superstitious in other areas. It’s like they can’t decided where to draw the line.

My thoughts of population: Everyone should agree to only have 2 children. Just enough to replace yourself, and not spoil the planet. We enjoy our lives, build things, and then pass everything on to the next generation. I think we all want a good future for our children, and an overpopulated planet isn’t going to be a very nice place to live.

I think nature favors empathy. A line of angry homicidal apes probably wouldn’t survive very long. Groups that learn to work together are more likely to survive.

4. Some more ideas on time says:

One more thing. You make it sound like us christians are crazy to question the rigidity of time. Blow your mind on this article (I think the writer is not christian) I certainly did.

http://www.ipod.org.uk/reality/reality_block_universe.asp

When you look at old light like this … not so huge a problem anymore

• Interesting, though I can’t say I’ve ever heard any Creationists suggesting a block Universe model (which has some problems of its own) would solve our distant light problem.

But “rigid” was probably a poor choice of words (might have to change that). Time is only rigid in the sense that it rigidly follows known natural laws, but it’s not so lacking in rigidity that Andromeda should somehow be able to age 25 million years while we only aged 6000.

• Boxi'n horned saint says:

Now if I understand this block universe correctly it not only solves the old light problem but also old earth problem. Now take those six days of creation. Who was there to count the time? If no one was, then how long it actually took? Remember that time is just an human illusion. So a day is an eon or two and an eon is a day. So Holy Spirit inspired the author of genesis to write in days. And so it was. But time is an illusion so it took eons. See what I mean? Reminds me of the book of Job when God says

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (I might talk more on foundations later)

Sends chills right down my spine.

Now correct me if I’m wrong but I remember reading somewhere that ancient Israel genealogies where not exact records of actual peoples like we have today. They just mentioned important people like leaders and left unimportant wimps out. Thus there is no sense in counting ages of these people and adding them up to a 6000 year old earth. And I need to look this up somewhere but was their understanding of time circular rather than linear? That would make long age counts a bit not so exact as well. I need to check on this.

So we can have our literal take on the genesis and maintain some scientific believability. Not so big a leap of faith anymore. Dinosaurs now have their time to frolic and disappear. Neanderthals come and go (I have a theory on these as well. Maybe later if I have time) Now these are of course theories but that’s the way it is when we talk about origins of the universe. Scientific or religious.

Now evolution I still don’t get. But Fancis Collins somehow makes that work and he sure is a smart fellow. So let’s see. Methaporical route is not for me because that undermines authority of the bible

So I’m firmly in the block universe camp now.

• As soon as the major Creationist sites start touting a block universe, I’ll take a closer look.

Q: “Now take those six days of creation. Who was there to count the time?”

A: God delineates time pretty clearly on the first day:

“God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

• Boxi'n horned saint says:

Now I’m not an great astrophysist or philosopher. Just an ordinary family guy with a day job. If you look at the comment sections of the past article you see many people smarter than me trying to grasp all of this. It just blows ones mind.

http://www.ipod.org.uk/reality/reality_mysterious_flow.asp

There it says:

” After all, we do not really observe passage of time. What we actually observe is later states of the world differ from earlier states that we remember. The fact that we remember past, rather than the future, is an observation not of the passage of time but of the asymmetry of time. NOTHING OTHER THAN CONSIOUS OBSERVER REGISTERS THE FLOW OF TIME” (emphasis mine)

So if there is nobody to observe creation then how long it took? To a later human observer it was a day and to a God it was a day.. And forever .. And blink of an eye. We are living at the moment of creation and at the same time at the end of the universe. Time is noting but an persistent illusion. So what on earth is a day?

Another interesting aspect:

“But if we are living in a block universe then all times (and hence all events) must be equally real. Hence, every event in the network of tennis events must be real. The notion of causality (an event only occurring once a previous event has occurred) is therefore clearly false.”

If there is no causality how does one explain a road from creation to the end? This I think is how our universe must look to a God. Everything just IS. No future, no past, no present.

So there you go. Good luck figuring it out. My brain is smoking from the ears allready. You certainly are a thinking person so you explain us. Maybe a post on this?

• Howdy BHS,

I think part of the problem with some of the biggest questions is that we just don’t have the the answers (yet). We can only work with what we know so far, and infer conclusions from these more established observations.

A block universe is one of those things we’re just not sure about. But even if a block universe DOES exist, I don’t know that it fully solves the distant starlight problem. A supernova in a block universe may have always existed, but its light would still take a certain amount of “time” to reach earth (even if no one is around to observe it). I.E, there would be places within the block timeline where the light was not reaching the earth (if I understand it correctly, it is pretty complicated stuff).

I’d have to say I feel more comfortable believing that the Universe is old because it takes 168,000 years for supernova light to travel 168,000 years, than believing in an unproven block universe hypothesis that may (or may not) allow distant starlight to appear instantaneously, and may (or may not) infer a 6 day creation. But that’s just me. You’re certainly free to believe whatever suits you, but you should recognize that you’re believing based on your Biblical bias.

• Boxi'n horned saint says:

I’m quite comfortably knowledgeable of my bias. Are you of yours?

5. rautakyy says:

Boxy horned saint is a nice enough glyph. Especially now that I know what to call it.

If Bible was not the myth of one particular nomadic people among so many others, we might expect that the god who supposedly inspired it, would have told the scribest to put in creation, in terms like: “In the beginning God decided that there should be a universe for Him to dwell upon and experiment with the new notion of His – wich was life…” And then later it could tell us: “…And it took millions and millions of years for God to achieve life, and when God had created bacteria it took further more millions of years for Him to create beings with multiple cels…” “… Then after millions and billions of years the Devil made the dinosaurs, but God did not see them as good, and after dozens of millions of years He decided to destroy them…” Further more the Bible could tell us that: “… It was foreseen that there would be a great empire of the Incas in the distant land far beyond the great sea and that there would be some righteous God fearing men who would conquer that empire and God would give them Gold and unimaginable riches for enslaving the Inca people…” Now, to explain these components as just parts of local mythology would truly be difficult. But the Bible does not hold anything comparable. Instead we have creationism, that insists the mythical stories in the Bible are absolutely true, and all branches of science, from physics, astronomy, biology, medicine, geology, psychology to history are completely corrupted by some strange congloromation of atheist scientists.

The nazies did not see themselves as crazed fanatics, but if you support segragation in a society as the fundies often do, for example in the case of say women or homosexuals, it is a sign something is not right. I do not mean to say your average creationist is a bad person. And I am sorry, if I somehow implied that. I would guess the average fascist is was not a bad person as such (and I personally know one). It is only a question of on what grounds do we make our moral choises. If we find ourselves giving excuses for genosides being committed by order from a god in the Bible or some ideology, have we not allready accepted an idea that there are some form of “good” genosides? Do you see what I mean?

• Boxi'n horned saint says:

- God told the creation story using these people who wrote it and their way to tell it. I see no problem there. First was universe and earth created then came plants and animals in that order. Then humans. There is all the description of creation you need. Right in the same order as science thinks it did happen. Maybe apart for earth maybe created before universe. See causality. Do you think God would put mathematical formulas of universe being created? Not needed. 6 days? Read the pervious posts on block time.

- Job 40:15-24 a dinosaur

- Incas? Genesis 11:1-9 describes people dispersing all over the world from the tower of Babel.

- If God exists then he is the ultimate judge on morals. Those nations judged in the bible where one bad bunch of people. In the new testament we are told not to judge and leave that to God (this idea runs clear in the old testament as well). So that settles gay rights pretty much. In bible it is clear that they sin, but it is not our job to judge them or discriminate.

- Women? God created man and woman equal. We are just a bit “different” so that’s that.

- Just be careful who you call fanatic

6. rautakyy says:

I am quite aware of my bias, at least I think I am. Since I have never been an adherent of any religious sect and did not even grow up into believing one particular form of superstition is more plausible than the other, I look at the world and universe from a naturalist perspective. I find that mythologies are all obvious human creations. It is easy to see that to separate one of them and believing one of them (and they often are exclusive) needs a leap of faith. For the life of me, I can not fathom why gods would want to play hide and seek with us humans. It is allways a rigged game, where gods are hiding so that most people do not even know they are participating in the game. That seems especially unfair in regards to those mythologies that demand faith in the invisible gods, lest one will end up in eternal pain or be reborn as an insect.

I did not say all creationists are fanatics. Rather that most of them are the victims of fanatics. To me creationism seems just a very simple hoax. However, it is a road to fanatic approach when a person starts to make propaganda against scientific research on the grounds that scientific research contradicts some form of mythology. Religions and pyramid schemes are equal in that they are true to the participants mainly because they want the universe to work as promised, and not much more proof is ever needed.

The question of the age of distant starlight is just one typical and mathematically simple enough. It shows a simple enough mathematical flaw in the religious scripture. This is a scientific research result achieved by people who have had no particular interrest in denying the plausibility of any particular creation story by any particular religion. It only goes to show, that it is quite unlikely that a creator of the universe told the ancient scribes how universe really is constructed. It also shows that said entity is either not very interrested to convince the people of today (or of any other era for that matter) of the existance itself, or that it does not actually even exist.

Maybe the Bible holds enough information to convince the Jews of antiquity of said god, but it surely did not do much for the Chinese or the Indian people, let alone Native Americans to convince them. A rather meager contact to humanity from the alledged creator of the entire universe. For certainly it is a weak attempt to convince modern western people, when the book claims the earth was made before the universe, or even the sun. It almost seems like this god did everything possible to make the text seem just like any other mythology and contradict astrophysics, biology and geology. The aspects the Bible gives on history, sociology and psychology do not help much in making it a plausible source for the “truth”.

Most people who have become the adherents of any particular god, are that only because the adherents of said gods conquered the lands of their ancestors and forced them to join in to the cult. Religions are just cultural heritage.

7. To BHS: Biased? What bias? Lol, touché, touché.

To Rautakyy: By observing the world around us, it’s clear that God created us because He REALLY enjoys “hide and go seek.” Apparently, ALL the gods do.

I was a creationist, but I wouldn’t call myself a fanatic, I actually think I was a pretty nice guy. In fact, I’d still say your average evangelical is more friendly than your average Atheist. They have a much more positive outlook, even if it is a delusion.

I think the violence potential of most modern evangelicals is overrated. Today’s Christian is a lot less violence-oriented than Christians of the past. However, that fundamentalism can be dangerous in other ways (e.g., most Creationists aren’t really concerned with global climate change, since Jesus is coming back soon, anyway). But there’s always the potential for abuse.

Islam, on the other hand, tends to have more violent extremists. They say they’re a religion of peace, but South Park can poke fun of Jesus without fear of reprisal. They can’t even show Muhammad for fear that people will be killed.

• rautakyy says:

Yes, perhaps there is some universal rule why gods need to remain invisible, and they are not allowed to even tell us why. Maybe there is even higher authority looking over the creator entities, that have each made several universes… Or perhaps the supreme god of Judeo-Christian culture only made the Milky way and there are other gods that are responsible for the other galaxies. Even so, the Bible does not add up, since the furthest edge of our galaxy is about 100 000 light years away. Besides, there seems to be more than one god responsible even for the creation of this one small planet, and it seems they are not even able to agree how did they manage it. Several of them have been bold enough to add to their CV the creation of the universe. This is of course a nice extra, as we humans are lacking any ways to dispute their participation in the forming of the universe. For all their powers of creation, they all seem to be interrested in us worshipping them and giving them our money. But of course it is not our money, but the property of gods, as they created everything.

How many atheists do you know? I know none that are fanatics, but I have heard stories of a few. No, doubt there are those too, but of course I am not one. If you had been a fanatic, you propably would have never even questioned your previous convictions. It kind of goes as part of fanatcism not to question ones faith. In my defence I can only say that since I have looked into many religions of the world I can assure myself, that I am not such a bad fanatic at least.

For the violence of islam the reasons are to be found elswhere as often is with all religious fanaticism. The point is that religions give the supreme authority to excuse violence and override ethics. Yes, I too find it strange that the followers of such an obvious non-violence man as Jesus might ever turn to violence, but since there is also the zen-buddhism, I should not be so surpriced.

Many islamic countries are occupied by western troops, or led by anti democratic governments supported by western countries and exploited by western corporations. At the same time as these outsiders are exploiting the natural resources there the populations of those countries are very poor and hardly educated. It is natural to find religious fundamentalism there. It is a cultural unity that the islamists seek to fight the western overpowering cultural influence and controll and find it from religion and it channels their anger in violence.

There is an old tradition to make pictures of Muhammad in Persian culture, but the islamic traditions closer to the ancient Bysantine Empire were apparently affected by the iconoclast movement during the birth of islam, so that to make a picture of Mohammed was banned. The idea was it would emphasize the character of the prohet, a mere man, over the invisible god. Typically, for religions, it lead to a dogma of not making pictures of Mohammed, but could not stop personal cult to have formed around him. Islam is not one block, just like christianity it is divided to many different sects and visions.

In Europe most terrorist are christians. They hail from Ireland, or the Basque areas of Spain and lately even from Norway. The basques are not religiously motivated but the Irish and the one Norvegian guy were. Of course there have been nazi and communist terrorists, whose religious notions are actually not even known. Desperate fanaticism is the common factor.

It really frightens me, how some of the extreme right wing people here in Europe nowadays are trying to paint islam as a religion of hate. It reminds me of how the nazies blamed everything on the Jews. Islam is just as mad to me as any other religion, but when we should not tolerate violent fundamentalism from islamists, so should we not tolerate violent fundamentalism from christians, or from hindus, or anyone for that matter.

After all the reason why mocking Jesus is easy but making fun of Mohammed is dangerous is not the result of Jesus being a nicer guy than Mohammed (though he might have been), but because the adherents of Jesus live in secular societies, that have banned religious violence, and where general ethics are employed more to look for what is right and what is wrong (even in the religious extremist communities), than religious scriptures. The history of christian nations before the age of enlightenment, does not paint a pretty picture of how religious dissidents were treated, when the various churches still had a say in how laws are set.

Here in Finland we had the last trial againts somone accused of plasphemy only some thirty years ago. Only after that ridiculous sherade did they take the notion of plasphemy from the law. There is cultural and moral evolution at least, that gives hope for better future. There are not very many funny pictures depicting Jesus from the Medieval times, not even from countries where it was not banned to depict Jesus in art.

8. Q: How many atheists do you know?
A: In real life? Like… four or five. Most people aren’t too open about it.

Just read that the United Kingdom only abolished its blasphemy laws in 2008. There’s never been a law against it in the United States, since “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” Looks like were were ahead of the curve on that one.

9. rautakyy says:

I know literally dozens of atheists, since both of my parents come from atheistic families. Almost all of my relatives that I know are atheists. The last ones I know of who were members of any church or even possibly believed in any gods died in the previous century. So did those members of my family who originally were part of christian community and left it for some reason. Some of the older people still living like my own parents, who were born before it was even legal to leave christian church still do remember how they resigned from it when it became legal in the 1950′s. And even I have been through the school religious education classes. My dad said it would do me good to learn what the religious people think. My sisters daughter went to sunday school and even got a stipendium from religious education in school, but I have not even asked, wether if she is going to put either of her kids to sunday school.

Yes, the US is one a very early secular state founded during the era of enlightenment by some very talented enlightenment enthusiasts and philosophers. In that sense, your country has been a beacon of light and clarity in the darkness. It was never a kingdom, and the first national leadership did not require a god to back up their authority. That is how gods get anywhere, when they are needed for political purposes. Christianity would propably have remained a small doomsday cult, unless emperor Constantine would have not seen it as a political asset. And nowadays the creationists and christian fundies are in a similar situation as the pre-constantine church and some of them even take pride about it.

The legal system of Finland was first established during medieval times when we were part of the Swedish kingdom and reformed when we were part of the Imperial Russia. We have not been independend even for a hundred years and the lutheran church has practically been in bed with the state from the beginning. They even have right to collect taxes. But as you know, god needs our money.

10. Boxi'n horned saint says:

Thanks 500 questions. Made my day.

Q: A supernova in a block universe may have always existed, but its light would still take a certain amount of “time” to reach earth (even if no one is around to observe it). I.E, there would be places within the block timeline where the light was not reaching the earth.

A: But when did it began it’s journey? When did it finish it?

And if God is playing hide and seek with you guys maybe your amygdala needs a bit of a workout.

Merry pagan holiday we call christmas

11. rautakyy says:

Merry Yuletide to you all too! I am going to be a good boy, else the elfs might report me back to Santa. Or maybe not… For sure I am going to eat a lot of pork as my cultural heritage demands.

Hahaha!
The universe is in a box where light does not actually travel and therefore the Bible is true??? That is quite a revelation. It did not open up to me, but maybe that is just because of my brain is malfunctioning. Since, my atheism is only my brain malfunctioning.(Propably the Devil or maybe Ahriman caused it). What a relief to know why I am going to end up in eternal pain after I die. Now suddenly, it all makes sense, no wait! It does not…

If I still had a womb, I’d want to have your children.

Too much?

13. Farris Fanik says:

no even athiests go to heaven if theyre good people. in the bible. actually an athiest can have a better chance of going to heaven than a christian. everyone can have their views, no need to criticize each other

14. Young Earth Creationist believe the earth is that young. But I believe neither Genesis nor Job do say when the universe was created. As a Christians theist, I believe all truth are God’s truth, and God has reveal himself in nature. When Scientist correctly read the data, then that is the truth. I believe the universe is over 6 billions years old. Thanks 500Questions for wonderful questions each Christians ought to read and ponder.

• Thanks Prayson. I believe the 6000 years is arrived at by studying the genealogies between Adam and Jesus.

• Sadly I have heard. Defender of a closed chronology view tend to hold this view and reconcile scientific data with the flood theory, which does not work as you pointed out, cosmos unaffected by the flood, or the ideal-time theory, which makes God an illusionist and deceiver.

I think reading Genesis 11 and 1 Chronicles one can see there are known gap in genealogies. Even in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1 compared with 1 Chronicles 3 one can see a gap between Joram and Uzziah.

I believe the gap theory which argues that there is a gap between Gen.1.1 and 1.2 is plausible and the age-day theory,which was defended by Augustine and other early Christians, claiming that the hebrew word day does carry more that 24 hours period time.
And the phrase “evening and morning” does not encompass a twenty-four-hours plus day seven is not said to have ended, possible view. These thus open a room for dancing and exploring the age of the universe in nature, since the bible does not give the period of creation.

I am open to hear young earth creationist view, but I find it not only weak, but false since it makes God a deceiver.

Thanks 500Questions.

Prayson

15. Chip says:

why would the bible equate the number of stars with the grains of sand on the seashores, when at the time it was written, we only knew of a few thousand stars?

• Hi Chip, a reasonable question.

“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies…”
~Genesis 22:17

I believe it was a simple simile, a poetic way of saying “a lot” of descendants. At the time it was written, there were few things more visibly numerous than stars and sand, and it gives us a great visual and poetic representation of how many children he would have (and was far more poetic than saying something like “your descendants will outnumber the hairs on your dog.”) There are a lot of visible stars in the sky.

If we’re saying that this meant that God knew about all the stars we can’t see, well, I’d be more impressed if God described the existence of many groups of stars (galaxies), or if He said that sand was sometimes composed of countless microscopic sea shells.

Another question is, why would God tell Abraham his descendants would be as numerous as the stars… but then go and make the descendants of some unknown Asian bloke far more numerous than Abraham’s? Did God love this Asian man more? What’s the story there? There are even far more blacks than Jews. Did God mislead Abraham? Because He certainly gave more land and more offspring to other cultures that He didn’t promise anything to. Odd.

16. Chip says:

Hebrew parallelism is a form of poetry in which the words of two or more lines of text are directly related in some way (either synonymous, antinymous, etc. This would obviously be an example of synonymous parallelism. Is there any reasonable explanation why the writer would not have compared the (known) stars of the sky with, say, the trees of the forest, or perhaps hairs on your head….anything that would number in the thousands rather than the product of 100 billion times 100 billion?

As to your second point, the Bible describes Abraham’s descendants as those who have apprehended Abraham’s faith regardless of blood. A more relative question is, is it possible that there are that many people who have apprehended the faith? But the question of parallelism stands: How does 8,000 stars stack up with the product of 100 billion times 100 billion?

• Chip says:

Of course, this would generate another more perplexing problem/question: why would God compare these two phenomena, when at the time they would be astronomically different figures….would this not confuse Abraham?

• Certainly, if God had said “You should know that there are far more stars in the Universe than are visible,” then this would at least be something. This would be a lesson in astronomy instead of a lesson on how many descendants Abraham would have.

But it’s possible to pervert this verse in many meaningful and meaningless ways. For example, we could insist that because God says “as numerous as the stars in the sky,” that He could only be referring to stars visible to Abraham. Or when God says “as the sand on the seashore” exactly which seashore? All of them? Or should it be just the ones local to Abraham? And what size sand counts? Do desert sands count or just seashore sand? What if the desert borders an ocean? Then does all the sand count or just the sand nearest the water? If so, how far inland? And does this count past, present and future sand? Or just the sand present at the time of the statement? What about sand on other planets? If we’re counting all the stars in the Universe, should we count all the sand? And so on, ad infinitum.

If we insist that this verse MUST be referring to all stars in the Universe, then this comparison is saying that Abraham would have descendants => all seashore sand and/or all the stars. But this is clearly impossible, since there could never be as many humans as there are sand and stars in the universe. We can’t say the comparison to the decendents and sand/stars is a metaphor, but the comparison between the sand and the stars is literal. Well… we could… but that’s just picking and choosing to support our bias.

To insist that this proof of God’s knowledge of astronomy is pervert the verse with bias in order to create proof of divine inspiration. The fact is that not only could God have done a much better job than this, but the same sort of thing is also done with the Qur’an. So if we qualify this as proof divine inspiration, then must also say it is likely proof that the Qur’an is divinely inspired as well.

17. Chip says:

I suppose it could go either way…that is, either one of us could be right on this one.

18. Phil says:

Even though I agree that the Earth is much more than 6000 years old, it is not true that the radius of the universe is the speed of light times the age of the universe. The universe is larger due to cosmic inflation; look at the Wikipedia article on “Observable Universe”. The original distance between us and the furthest light source was 13.7 billion years but it inflated to 48 billion over that time period.

19. fluffyCat says:

Interesting discussions. I have been trying on my own to reconcile the bible with scientific findings and speculation (without much success). It seems to me that creationism as a literal interpretation makes no sense. Taking the written Genesis account as “True Gospel” just doesn’t fit comfortably in my mind. Trying to understand the ideas of an expanding Universe suddenly being emitted out of nothing is equally perplexing. Where is the center of the universe? What actually is time? It most certainly is a great mystery.
If we can all muddle though this life doing more good than harm, then perhaps there is a meaning in that.

20. keksinnot says:

I find all these thoughts that you had, very funny. Why? Because all you have beat here is a strawman, the strawman people like you and some Christians built together.

The fact is, the Bible makes very clear distinctions between the state of paradise, Eden and the dying natural world. And the other fact is, that the belief, Eden existed in an another dimension, much like the New Jerusalem talked about in the book of Revelation, predates evolutionary beliefs by hundreds if not thousands of years.

When you take into account the fact that the things of God happen in an another dimension, different as much as 2d is to 3d, the questions you had are not problematic at all. Based on the Bible, one can safely predict, that one day scientists will discover how this 3rd dimension with it’s laws is actually based on a fourth spatial one. And thus all your talk about gigantic gravitational forces will sound ridiculous.

To make the strawman so many people support even uglier, they and you say, that all these beliefs are more “liberal”. But, you could not be any more wrong. I assure you, that we who actually read what the Bible says and don’t just listen to the strawman supporting pastors and mainstream scientific views, are often even more hard-core than others.

I need to believe this and that, in order to fit into this and that category? Says who? God or them?
Can you see how ridiculous this talk is?

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. (Pro 3:13-15)

• I think you have it backwards. If I were to just assume (and then attack) the idea of the original earth existing in another dimension, THAT would constitute a strawman, as most Christians would respond, “What they hell are you talking about? I don’t believe that!? So by discounting it you’re not actually disproving something I believe!”

But you’re certainly welcome to believe in multiple spiritual dimensions if you wish, but I can’t possibly cover every minority interpretation that people have for everything the Bible, so I try to stick with the most mainstream ideas.

Best of luck to you in your future dimensions!

• rautakyy says:

This is an interresting answer by “keksinnot”. It seems the Bible can be stretched to very wide variety of explanations. Or rather excuses for the obvious flaws and contradictions in it. One can simply assert, that there is some other dimension in wich all that is impossible in the Bible is actually possible. A bit like saying that the Lord of the Rings is true, but it just so happens, that the Middle Earth exists in a nother dimension and it will be so funny when the scientists find out about it. But was the god of the ancient Hebrews lying to them, or to us, when he did not mention about these extra dimentions to them, when they were writing this stuff up? Is it just a test to test our faith to make the universe seem to have only the dimensions we know about?

Perhaps I become a Christian the day the scientists find those other dimensions, but before that I must say the Bible is not making a very strong case of plausibility in light of our current knowledge.

21. Protheist says:

2 Peter 3:8 is a plain statement of time dilation with precision. Enter the indicated number from the passage (365,250 including leap year) into a Special Relativity calculator online, it indicates plainly the movement at such speed- exactly- causes time itself to spin very fast for the occupant-god-whatever, thus one day is LIKE one thousand years and one thousand years is LIKE one day.

It explains the majority, perhaps all, the above discussions- conjoined, light hitting us that comes from hundreds of thousands of light years away, but Bible says 6000.

Freebie.. How OLD is the light that left hundreds of thousands of years ago? Why, I think it is only a few days, give or take, old!

• rautakyy says:

Excuse me, but what does that mean? To whose benefit does the Bible give the age of the earth 6000 years, (or 6000 000 years, according to what you say about the relativity calculator)? How does that explain anything? We know of stars and events much further in space, than 6 million years even if you multiply the 6000 years from the Bible.

I do not know why you would think the light you see is only “few days” old. That makes no sense. To me it seems, that some of that light is thousands of years old and some of it is even older. It depends how far the star is and we can calculate that from the light spectrum.

• Ya, I didn’t quite grasp that one either.

Interesting discussions. Is it possible that the distant stars were created with their light apparent to us already? In a way this would make sense, because God would want us to be able to see them – and there would be no other way to do it. If the stories of Adam and Eve are true, they were created with an apparent age (let’s say 25 years old), and the earth they walked on was created with an apparent age (it wasn’t a steaming mass of molten rock, but suitable for human habitation). So to surmise that the stars were created in such a way that their light was already projected billions of light years in ever direction would in a way make sense. Why could this not be the case?

That’s certainly possible. The only hitch is that God would’ve had to write the history of the Universe into the photons that were traveling to earth at the time of creation. Every star that we observe going supernova never actually existed, it’s just a bluff — a bit of a fabrication on God’s part to make the Universe appear older than it actually is, and many Christians take issue with the idea that God would fabricate such a story (partly because God’s not supposed to be capable of lying).

Yes, 500, I can see your point, and thanks for that reply – seeing a supernova that happened 10 million years ago does throw a wrench into the idea of all creation being 6000 years old. So is it must be that the hebrew word Yom has a meaning in Genesis that is more than a 24-hour literal “day”. It can also mean a general vague “time” or a point of time. Anyway, we have to consider that the universe is indeed some 13 billion years old. Dr. Gerald Schroeder has an interesting theory here that the relativity of time could reconcile the two views: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxQHW1tqu-Y

• No problem,

I once watched a two hour debate over the meaning of the word “day” (if you can believe that). The problem with giving the word a non-literal meaning is that Genesis clearly defines what a day is (as if we were idiots and needed it spelled out): “God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

Failing to redefine the length of a day, other believers have taken up the task of trying to cram 13 billion years into a few days, and have come up with a multitude of theories and possible explanations. I’ve watched several hours of them, and one of them might actually be true, but we’ll never know, because none of them can be proven or falsified — so such pursuits are ultimately a dead end. Believers are just asked to take them on faith and to keep believing that there is an explanation for this problem.

The only real goal for such an exercise is to try and maintain that the Bible is true, despite the fact that it seems to disagree with the natural, observable evidence. If people want to take these ideas on faith they’re certainly free to do so, but Bible aside, there’s no reason for us to try to argue 13 billion years of history into 6 relative earth days.

23. Reblogged this on The Ultimate Skeptic and commented:
A fantastic look at reality. This should blow the minds of the creationists.

• Anonymous says:

Ultimately God blows all our minds
It’s His Game, Field and Neighbourhood

Who coverest [thyself] with light as [with] a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Psalms 104:2

Light does not govern God in His doings; nor does Time in His being
God wins all the time!

Revelation 19
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”
– Jesus {The Word of God}. ref: Matthew 24:35

“I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
Revelation 21: 6-7

Of all the “evidence” against the existence of God, this is one of the thorniest. It may be that we are missing something. As I read Genesis 1, I would tend to agree with the OP that a day is a day – that is the most usual interpretation of the Hebrew word Yom (although astronomer Hugh Ross argues for yom to equal a long period of time pretty effectively). But let us go with the idea that a day is a day.

Now if we read Genesis 1 again:
Genesis 1:14 only mentions lights in the firmament to divide the day from the night, and for signs, seasons, and years (that would be the sun and the moon).

Genesis 1:15 only mentions lights in the firmament to give light to the earth (again, the sun and the moon).

Genesis 1:16 focuses on two great lights, one for the day, one for the night (once again, the sun and the moon) and then, at the end, says, almost as an aside “he made the stars also”.

To me, that suggests that the stars could have already existed, that He made them long ago, as in billions of years ago. If God is infinite, and never had a beginning, certainly He could have made the stars billions of years ago, via the Big Bang.

Genesis 1 is really focused on the creation of earth, and the creation of life on the earth; it is not, from my view anyway, intended as a treatise on the creation of the universe; merely the earth, the sun, and the moon.

So if you buy this, it neatly sidesteps the issues with distant starlight, because that issue is something we manufactured in our clumsy assumptions of the text. I really see very little cause for insistence that a single word at the end of Genesis 1:16 should mean that the stars were created concurrent with the sun and the moon, and that all of the universe was created on the fourth day. In fact, the more I think about that explanation, the more bizarre it appears.

That still leaves us with a potentially young earth, but that’s another discussion.

25. Sam says:

I am late to this party, and while I could write an actual thesis with all the thoughts going through my head, I firstly have a simple observation to make on the issue of it taking days or years for starlight to reach earth which seems to have already been offered, but it is the idea of the Peter verse involving a day being like a thousand years etc. The simple existence of that verse is interesting in and of itself, I think, but it offers up a rather more weighty thought, and that is that God cannot be God if we can completely understand everything there is to know about Him. If we can study and analyze and check all the boxes on all the charts about this God thing, then he’s not really God at all. God by his very nature cannot possibly be fully understood by inhabitants of a world in which He created, because they do not exist in the same realm of reality as He does. There has to be a mystery to God, there has to be things that make us scratch our heads and have talks like this, frustrating as they may be, or he’s not God. If you can put God in a box….then he’s not God. Ultimately in any case it seems that this whole argument simply and always boils down to the difference between having faith, and not having faith. My .02 anyway.

• Anonymous says:

I think you’re right.. It is also interesting to note that the passage in Deuteronomy 29:29 sets boundaries that there is always something that God would not disclose to us. Maybe this is one of its example.

26. Anonymous says:

Because God is Faster than the Light He Created

27. Anonymous says:

Why is this even a conversation? It’s simple if life isn’t in the universe to observe it then it doesn’t exist. If humans aren’t around then who cares, the universe is meaningless. So I’ll say it, we are the Gods! I’ve read the whole bible and I’m working on a university physics degree and bible thumpers just go home please. Science doesn’t even deny that this universe seems to be built for us. If the mass of an electron were changed ever so slightly they would absorb protons in one of the eras of the universe’s big bang. This conversation tho is moot! Spirituality is an individual exercise while science is a universal one so everybod do everyone else a favor and never relate the two!!!

• noblasphemy says:

Anon, it’s a conversation because those of us here believe we have evidence God does not exist, or that He does, and we’re passionate about our positions.

I still assert that the premise of this post is flawed -”If the earth is 6000 years old, how can we see stars more than 6000 years old” – Genesis 1 is not a treatise on the creation of the entire universe, it is merely a handful of verses discussing how the earth, sun, and moon were created. To assume that it is about the creation of the universe is taking it way out of context – read it carefully, there is only one mention of “the stars” as an aside that could well mean they were created earlier by the same being. As in billions of years earlier.

You’re working on a university degree in physics? Don’t get all high and mighty because you are a registered student; that’s not such a great qualification. We are the gods, you say? Based on what? We have no hope of ever creating something even as basic as a star, but we live surrounded by 100 billion galaxies. We are mere vapor, specks of dust, here today, gone tomorrow.

You correctly stated that this universe seems built for us; this should make us suspicious that perhaps it was designed for us by an intelligent being; the leading materialist explanation is infinite multiverses – and if you want to play that game, where does it stop? Because proponents of that theory suggest that there should also be infinite universes that support life, suggesting that there could even be a universe where there is a superman and a green lantern. Sounds more fantastic and unlikely than merely positing a spiritual being who tuned the universe for life if you ask me.

God is the causeless cause, a spiritual being who brought matter and energy into existence; any other explanation has to do bizarre gymnastics to explain the creation of something from nothing, and the creation of life itself from dead matter.

• Shakim Allah says:

First of all, the universe means the SUM OF EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS. therefore, the idea of more than ONE UNIVERSE is what i call, mental masturbation.. plz learn to discern REAL from PSEUDO science

• Shakim Allah says:

Also, plz define what a SPIRIT IS, next ur argument is predictable of those who dont undrstand science while trying to refute it lol.. there is no nothing for something to come from. The universe has always existed. OUR SOLAR SYSTEM, not so much

28. Anonymous says:

Stars are a problem for everyone (horizon problem). Using inflation theory to explain away the relative even temperature of the universe is simply inventing something that is neither repeatable nor observable (i.e., not science).

29. David says:

Does distance matter if the universe was created with this approximate size and movement?

30. D Gollahon says:

Check out some of these articles: http://www.factandfaith.co.za/dvd.html
Especially the 100+ page summary of “God by Evolution” and “The Gospel of Jesus Christ in our ancient and evolving universe”. Very interesting attempt at resolving evolution and the Bible.

31. Shakim Allah says:

If the universe or earth is ONLY 6,000 YEARS OLD, how did CHINA end up with a history at least 25,000 years old?

32. Sterling Bennett says:

Whose to say that the stars are millions of light years away?
Whose to say that you need light waves to see light?

all those other questions you have about God and the Bible, you’re trying to answer them by science and that everything has an answer….we weren’t meant to know everything, but know the One that knows everything…..You’re obviously confused by your own answers and questions and that’s why you continue to search for more answers, just take his word for what it is and TRUST HIM!! please

33. Sterling Bennett says:

• rautakyy says:

@Sterling Bennet. How do you know he will never lie to you? Salvation from what – the icy halls of Hela goddes of death by dying in battle and so being salvaged to rejoice in Valhalla as a couple of my friends sincerely believe?

• Anonymous says:

I know because he has never lied to me, never ever….He knows my weakness, and I know his weakness as well…..WE are his weakness, He loves us so much that he gave his only Son to a pack of wolves to be slaughtered. Would you ever do that to your son???….Salvation from the very Hell your living above!! Hell is real!! Just as real as you and I, and we’re saved (salvation) from the very punishment that we totally earned and deserve, but Jesus came down and paid that debt in full for you and I…..Don’t listen to silly stories of old men with an appetite for attention, listen to the one that you know is real and true……I love you and everyone on this page and many other pages that aren’t sure, please listen to me, because you never know how long you have until you wake up in God’s wrath, so please listen to him!!

• rautakyy says:

You mean you have never caught him on a lie. Exept that, if it is “his word”, that the world is only 6000 years old, or that he made the earth before the sun, or that he covered all the earth in flood, then those are factually extraordinary lies from someone who should know better. They are infact claims totally indistinguishable from any other myths of other gods.

Only an immoral monster would make a human sacrifice, especially of his own son. I certainly would not. Would you, if he told you to? He told Abraham to and alledgedly rewarded him for being obidient. Primitive and sick.

I have done nothing so evil, that an eternal punishment could be justified, nor have you. So, promising salvation from, that which this god could cancel whith his alledgedly allmighty powers is just a demand for worship by the treat of violence. Totally twisted and unethical, is it not? Is this the behaviour of a benevolent god, or political demagougery of “old men”?

No, I do not know any of that to be true, what you would claim to be true. Can you provide any evidence? Give it your best shot. I do not disbelieve you out of spite. I simply have not had enough evidence for any of it to be true. Infact, all the actual evidence I have ever encountered tells me the opposite. That the stories about gods are all invented by “old men whith an appetite for attention” as you put it.

Why is your god wrathfull? Is it because we are like we are as this god alledgedly created us to be? Does that not make this god an idiot, or perhaps even evil? Is this god of yours wrathful, because we do not do as he asks us to and that we do not believe in him, even though he is deliberately hiding from us? Or is he just incompetent, in that he can reveal himself to you, but not to me?

I try to be as good a person as I can, and I do measure that by what little intelligence I have. That intelligence tells me, that I can be a better person by resorting to the best information awailable to me and by better information I make better judgement of any issue. If there is a god, my intelligence did not reveal to me during my lifetime, who wants to punish me for that, then to hell whith such a god.

• fluffypeanutcat says:

There is so much in the old testament I would just like to throw out. I really can’t understand anyone in a scientific age (like some creationists) resorting to the literal wording and ridiculousness on so much of what is written. No the earth is not 6,000 years old. Also days have gotten longer from the beginnings of earth in the solar system, as the earth’s rotation has slowed. Makes one wonder if the day began with sunlight at the prime meridian if it was an actual sunlight day. Nothing makes sense in 6 days of creation, also a Tower of Babel, Noah’s ark, etc.etc etc.. People who promote this are destroying the possibility of getting the true message of what being Christian is.

However if you start looking at the ministry of Jesus and what he taught ( I assume most would agree there was a historical truth in Jesus’s crucifiction) and his interaction with people, how can one not pause and wonder how this all happened. Was this all laid out as a plan amongst him and his followers to circumvent the old testament and in a clever way put aside some of its cruel burdens on the people. Just all kinds of questions come to my mind. Was the body stolen by his followers and then they knowingly later risked their lives to promote Christ’s teachings?.

Thomas Jefferson actually crossed out sections of the bible he didn’t believe. Maybe all some of us can do is try to be a good Samaritan and live by what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount..I hate church dogma and sit quietly and ponder what I hear. Somethings I conclude are hoaky and untrue but other things cut to the core of my life and make me truly wonder. It may be that many of the professed atheists and agnostics are actually trying to live with their fellow man as Christ taught. It might be that we are actually saved by our own doubts.

• All good points fluffypeanutcat and rautakyy.

There are plenty of good lessons that one can take from the Bible. Even if it turns out to not be true, there’s nothing wrong with doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. We just have to use our common sense to sort the good stuff out from the bad.

Still, some people say the God of the New Testament is more evil than the God of the old, since he comes along with the idea of eternal punishment for those who don’t believe in him.

Funny, how we need God to save us from God.

• sterling says:

Please!!! don’t do this you’re playing with an Eternal, Loving God….He doesn’t want to punish you but LOVE YOU!!! Is that too much to ask!?!? He sent his Son down here to die for us because 1. Jesus voluntarily did so, Read your Bibles!! 2. HE LOVES US MORE THAN THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN, THAT’S WHY HE DID IT!! Us impure, doubting, selfish, narrow-minded, carnal beings, BUT…He still loves you……God is not immoral…every little word you say He knows you were going to say, every little word you say he created those words, He invented words by simply saying “Let there be light..”
WHOO!!
Please don’t curse God….Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand….God is not an idiot He installed us with Free-will, so who are the Idiots???…I’ll give you the answer : YOU AND ME !!!
The old men in the stories have been near to starvation, not once, but many times in their life….Jesus himself fasted for 40 days, same number of days as the flood, this represents that we won’t have to go through destruction, but through a loving God….These old men wrote stories not of there own glories, but giving GOD THE GLORY!! their names might be the titles, but not once did they start where they were born or where they’re from…but they did mention THE BIRTH of JESUS CHRIST!! WHOO!! and that he died on CALVALRY FOR YOU AND ME!!!

Not to boost myself up, but I am the evidence you’re looking for…trust me any old rinky dink Christians would’ve stopped this conversation long ago, but I LOVE YOU AND GOD SO MUCH THAT I CAN’T….I am the evidence that you’re looking for!!!…come to Victory Baptist Church in Ruffin North Carolina and you will get you’re answer!!

I’m going to be honest I have not seen God at all!!….but….I felt him, in my time of doubt, in my time of need, in my time of SUICIDE, I FELT HIM!!! HE loved me and I realized that…..I need to know where you’re from so we can meet face to face…..I’m from Reidsville, North Carolina, and I would like to personally sit down and talk to you about this……God loves you, and he put me on this page to show you that, and I’m begging God right now to reach into your heart and show you how much he loves you!!!!

Backtrack: clearly you’ve grown up in church to know of such stories……So why did God tell Abraham to kill his son, to test his obedience….AND!!…I bet you didn’t know that Isaac (Abrahams son) was the initial sacrifice for the WHOLE WORLD!!! but that wouldn’t have been enough…..in the last moments that Abraham was about to mutilate his son, JESUS stepped in and said prepare me a body so that I may go down and bare their sins!!!
WOW!!!! amazing right??!!…A LOVING GOD!!! right??!!…at that time the angel of the Lord came down and stopped Abraham at the right moment and God had a ram stuck in the bushes for Abrahams sacrifice, instead of sacrificing his son……DOES THAT SOUND IMMORAL TO YOU!?!?! DOES THAT SOUND LIKE HE GAVE UP HIS OWN SON FOR SLAUGHTER TO BENEFIT ONLY US?!?!?!?!

WOW!!!! I hope you fall in love with God, because he wouldn’t have me on this page for no reason, and I will refute and give up evidence with every single breath in my body for a God that loves you and me.

I will be praying for you whole-heartedly
Sincerely,

STERLING

• rautakyy says:

@Sterling, I am happy for you that you found help when you most needed it. I am also sorry, that it is rather hard for me to meet you at your church in North Carolina, since I live here in Finland.

If your god really loves me and you, and actually is benevolent, then he surely does not think you, or me are deserving of eternal punishment for any transgressions we have made whithin our limited human capacity.

I have not grown in a church. I have studied many religions, but my parents and my parents parents were atheists. Generally you will find, that atheists are better informed of religious sources, than the religious people. For many atheists, that is exactly why they are atheists, alltough not for me. I find these stories of gods to be amusing and entertaining, like any good fairy tales, but I really am totally unable to take them at face value. They are obvious period pieces describing the cultural values of the time and place when and where each of them was written.

Our secular cultural morals has moved beyond most of them, simply because whith better information one makes better judgement. We no longer appriciate slavery, or stoning as good and moral practices like the god of the Bible does. Most civilized countries have given up the capital punishment as immoral practice, even though in the Bible it is regarded as a good way to deal even whith unruly kids. Our moral should be evolved beyond thinking that a single human sarcifice was in any way a moral solution to a god having failed in his plan about humanity.

The story about Abraham tells us that he was willing and just about to murder his own son. Right? What was he rewarded for? For being obidient. Right? Now, it was no test at all, if Abraham second guessed god would not let him. On the other hand, if he thought his god was asking him to kill his son, then he was being obidient to a monstrous diety that demanded him to kill his son. And subsequently he was rewarded for being obidient to an authority that would ask him to kill his son. Jesus was not yet around in that part of the book. Infact according to the book he was not even born yet. This story is a myth, but if it were true, then Abraham was a guy who heard voices in his head, that first told him to kill his son, but stopped him from committing the act at the very last moment. That is totally indistinguishable from a very serious mental disorder and could have ended both ways. And such do happen. Where is the loving god when a crazy parent kills his/her child?

You would not kill your son, even if your god would ask you to. Would you? Why? Because it is monstrous. You would not even expect your god to ask you to, would you? Why? Because you do not think your god is monstrous. But your god did ask Abraham and alledgedly killed his own son. Alltough, he did not really kill him, since he was alledgedly resurrected right after.

What do you mean by free will? The free will of the murderer, or the free will of his victim? If an allmighty god lets the murderer to kill, then that god has evaluated the free will of the murderer as more important, than that of the victim. Correct? Surely the free will of the victim would have been to continue living?

We are the products of our cultural heritage and genes. Genes determine the limits of our capacity for understanding and cultural heritage gives us the perspective from which we evaluate the world around us. Your heritage clearly says that the god of the Bible is true. Mine does not. Hence, one of us is right and the other is wrong. How do we determine what is true? The best way I know how truth is ever measured is by science, evidence and logic. Do you know a better way?

I love only people I personally know. I know people tend to worship idols, they think they know because they have read about these characters, but I find that a bit silly. I have nothing against you, but to me love is so much more valuable term, that I would not go throwing it around at strangers.

Peace.

34. sterling says:

This comment is to the guy that said “Funny, how we need God to save us from God.”
You don’t save yourself from God, He saves you from your deserved punishment. Being in Hell with our backs broke is what we deserve, but A LOVING GOD HAS SOUGHT US, BOUGHT US, LOVED US, AND SAVED US FROM SUCH PUNISHMENT….HE took our punishment and paid it in full

WHOO!!! Hallelujah!!
But God is the almighty omnipotent being and He knew that you and everyone else was going to say what you did….HE LOVES YOU AND I !!! just wanted to say that

• Sterling my friend,

Let me put it this way: imagine you die and Zeus says to you, “Why didn’t you believe in me?” And you say, “Uh… the available evidence, as I understood it, suggested that you were merely a myth.” Do you think it would be fair for Zeus to punish you forever over a misunderstanding?

I may have made a few mistakes in my life, but certainly nothing that deserves eternal punishment. A good God should say, “Eh, you didn’t believe in me, but that’s okay. But now that you know I exist, you’re welcome to hang out here in heaven or create your own world without me, or choose to end your existence, no hard feelings. I understand it wasn’t YOUR choice to come into existence to be tested, so whatever you want to do is fine.” He shouldn’t punish you forever, even if you’re an evil douche bag. And if he does, and he creates you anyway, knowing full well you’re going to end up in hell, then he’s the evil douche bag.

If your own children were suffering in hell forever, would you be able to look at God and say, “You are a great God! They deserve what they are getting! Ahhh! Look at them burn! You should continue to allow them to suffer! Thank you for making them so that they may suffer! Truly you are a God of love and mercy!” If you can say this, what kind of person are you?

500Q

• sterling says:

500 Q…..please analyze the situation you’re in…..Come on do you really think that Zeus is going to be the God of the universe??? If you did then you wouldn’t be on this page…..And if you listen to the stories that were in Greek mythology, a lot of times Zeus impregnated many woman just because of Lust, so why aren’t there any Demi-Gods running around here to save us from gigantic scorpions, and pretty little harpies….You know where the answer lies, and where the truth was born……God is not going to say “You didn’t believe off of misunderstandings”, if that was they case we wouldn’t be refuting in this topic right now….But he is going to say “You know that time when that young man came onto a page called 500 questions, and pleaded with you to love me, and get to know me?? Why didn’t you??? I sent him there just for you, and you denied me for the whole world to see. Why??”….Then you won’t be able to say anything, but cry…..I don’t want you to take the punishment that he took for you more than 2000 years ago, He did it so you wouldn’t have to!!

Read Romans 3:23, 10:9-10….please believe him, if you don’t then you’re saying that all blood and tears that he dripped for you wasn’t good enough…..His beard was ripped out! His skin was torn to shreds!!! Why you might ask?!?! Because He LOVED YOU AND ME!!!…..please don’t reject a loving God….my heart is tearing apart right now over your soul, and I don’t want to see you at the Great White Throne, but at the Judgment Seat of Christ….please accept him!!! please!!!

I will be praying for you, and Alex, and Rautakyy, and whoever else doesn’t just take his word faithfully because you’re playing with a fire that get you burned forever!!!

I love you all!!
Sincerely,

STERLING

• Thanks Sterling,

I know your heart’s in the right place, but seriously, if we were in ancient Rome you’d be pleading to me on behalf of Zeus right now. It’s not that absurd, we were just raised in a different culture where a different God has been popularized.

I simply can’t believe in God just because you say I should, no more than I can believe in Santa just because you say I should, I have to have a good evidence for it, and this evidence doesn’t seem to exist.

If you’re willing to believe that an extremely complex God can exist free of any intelligent cause, then you must also admit that it’s far more probable for a less complex entity (man) to exist free of any intelligent cause. It’s really just that simple, God only complicates the equation.

I don’t really buy into the whole “believe in Jesus because he suffered” thing, because I know many people who have suffered and died for a lot less. Heck, I’d endure what Jesus went through just to end world hunger, or cancer. If anything, Jesus didn’t even suffer for our sins, he had a bad weekend for our sins. It’s those who go to hell for eternity who will truly suffer, not Jesus, he’s back in heaven.

Which brings me round to my original point: benevolent all-knowing gods don’t go about creating angels they KNOW will turn evil, or creating people they deeply love if they KNOW they’re only going to end up suffering in hell forever. (Would YOU have a child if you knew they’d only suffer constantly, begging to die every moment of every day?)

A good, all-knowing, logical, loving God would see how this whole experiment would play out in advance, and then opt NOT to create it, because it would only create suffering where there was none.

Sorry, but God is wholly illogical on almost every front.

That said, I still think you’re awesome and I wish you the very best.

35. Alex G says:

I think we’re all not giving the big guy the credit he deserves.

To be fair, i’m not particularly religious, but i am very open. And i write this from what i try to make a very fair standpoint. To help out, i write this in simply a conversational tone, no argument is being made, don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea!

The thing is, an all knowing, all powerful being (being God) we all must accept is far beyond our understanding.

However, Humans by nature seek to understand and discover, its part of what makes us so great. And helps us fully realise the wonder of what surrounds us.

In that quest though, time and time throughout history explanations have been accepted as “fact” as it was the best they could come up with, and it made sense to them.
That doesn’t necessarily make it correct though.

Now God, in all his ability can surely create a universe as complex and ancient as ours. As to such a being that much time is of no consequence, correct?

Yet people continue to argue against what we discover. Should it not be embraced? If we were not meant to find these things we would not have been given the capability.

In that sense, i think its also fair that such a being is able to orchestrate the creation of the entire universe with “The Big Bang”, fully well and knowing that it would be in its state it currently is right now.

Our universe is governed by laws, we didn’t create them, but we observe and define them so we may understand them. In order for everything to work and exist as it does today there is a necessary link to many, many things that must all be correct, from the workings of an atom to the effect galaxies have on each other, and the perfect balance that began that allowed life to first start on this planet.

When you stop and realise we are speaking about the workings of a being all powerful, it is reasonable to belief such a possibility.

Some might say that’s nonsense, but ignoring what science has shown us is just silly. If this universe truly was created by a being of such majesty, then honestly i think it nonsense that someone should not give credit for that.

Quite simply humans are being narrow minded if they constrain the abilities of an all mighty being to only what they themselves can conceive.

If anything, the discoveries of science should strengthen ones belief rather than threaten it. As there are constantly discoveries that never cease to once again show us exactly how wondrous the universe that surrounds us truly is.

36. jewelsinthesnow says:

So where did this “god” entity obtain its knowledge. The whole story never made any sense to me, some ethereal being for some unknown reason just happens to exists, was living alone in the black void, no planets, no stars, no other entities. Also no light or sounds because nothing else existed just this lonely entity, yet it somehow obtained the knowledge to create everything, then thousands of years later he was unhappy with the beings he had created, and the best thing he could think of was genocide, fast forward a few thousand years, he is still unhappy with these un-perfect people, so he decides to make himself a human child, but it is also him, confusing. and this innocent child needs to be tortured to death, because the super entity is upset with the flawed beings. He can’t find it in himself to forgive his poor pathetic creatures, unless he see an innocent entity tortured to death, which was not a first for him, and the older part of this silly book, and had numerous animals tortured to death, guess he can’t be happy unless he sees suffering. People call this entity a loving, just, and merciful “god” I call it evil, and sadistic. Can you imagine what people would say, if the high courts of America decided instead of giving the death penalty to the criminals would committed heinous crimes, the courts said they would execute newborns for the crimes of others, not only that they would executed newborns for the crimes of people who haven’t been born yet. The idea that Jesus died 2000 years before I was every born, for the crimes, or the misdeeds I might do, is silly. But what did this superhero sacrifice anyway, that also made no sense, if he came back alive a few days later where is the sacrifice, when a fireman runs into a building to save lives, then dies. he has sacrificed his life for others. Also they say a thousand years to man is a day to god. well then what did he suffer. In super entity time less than a tiny fraction of a second for our flaws. And people think aliens, superman, and fairy stories sound ridiculous. Not only do I see the stories as fiction, but poorly written fiction. At least Superman could fly, and see through walls, never demanded love or money, and superman would have his kid tortured to death for others crimes, actually Superman was opposed to killing anyone. The god of the bible killed billions, Superman would stop a child rapist, but the bible god allows it. The god of the bible is evil, good thing he is just as fictional as Superman