I have a few of annoying memories that keep popping up in my head from time to time. I need to stop thinking about them. Perhaps discussing them here with intelligent people will help.
What brought it back this time was watching the series Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey. At one point in the show they explain that the universe can't be just 6000 years old like some fundamentalist christians believe, because the light from a vast majority of the stars would not have had time to travel to earth in just six millennia.
All right then. Let's rewind to a few years back in my life. I was at a lecture evening with a friend of mine named Tor. Yes I know. A Swede named Tor. Kind of obvious, isn't it?
Tor is an archeologist. He had just returned from a dig in Denmark, and held a very interesting lecture. During a break me and my then girlfriend were approached by an older gentleman. He started talking to my girlfriend about archeology and geology. I thought he seemed a little unhinged. Suddenly he said, "It was a very good lecture your friend held. I know a great deal about archeology, since I am an amateur in the field myself. But I have to tell you that most archeological theories today are completely false."
I though this sounded strange, so I asked him what he meant by that. He said that he was a devout christian and that he had calculated the age of the earth using the Bible. Six thousand years. I couldn't believe my ears. I told him that I didn't believe him. What about carbon dating? Fossils?
The man told me that fossil remains are false evidence. Someone had put it in the ground to deceive people.
I got slightly annoyed and asked who would do such a thing.
He basically said that Satan had put the fossils in the ground to trick humanity into not believing in the bible.
Some time later I had a frustrating discussion with two religious people who came knocking on my door. They claimed that Carbon dating is unreliabale, because there is no evidence that the radioactive decay of carbon-14 has been constant throughout the history of the universe.
Later yet I heard a man say on the radio that modern astronomy is all wrong, because God can make light travel faster or slower at will. Then I saw a documentary, and in it was man who desperately was trying to proove that the grand canyon could not possibly be older than 6000 years.
I am not good at math or physics. It would be interesting if someone who is good at those subjects could try to explain what the universe would look like if these people were right. How much faster would light have to travel from the farthest galaxies if it was going to reach earth in just 6000 years? How much faster would C-14 have to decay? Would there be extraordinarly strange effects of god's and satan's tampering that we could observe?
I've met people like that - for every argument you have they think out an exception on the rules, an extra to Einstein's work, a different maximum speed of light, etcetera. I'm not good at math and physics either, but I do recognize people who are not interested in truth but only in pushing their own ideas.
Not good at math and physics but, if Satan is decieving us I would ask why isn't God powerful enough to stop him? Unless, like in Job, he is having a bet with Satan. I do not consider that to be a loving God.
I suppose they will say some tired sanctimonious excuse like 'The Lord works in mysterious ways' or something like that. At least, that's what I'd expect. A bet with Satan?
I don't think I'm familiar with that story.
The book of Job is about very little other than a bet between Yahweh and Satan, played out on this poor schmuck, Job. Supposed to be all about what an upright guy Job was, how faithful, et cetera, despite being put through the wringer. God supposedly rights all the wrongs in the end ... but Job's wife and kids are still DEAD when all is said and done.
It wouldn't just be Carbon-14. You'd have to throw in rubidium and strontium and uranium and, for that matter, any element which undergoes radioactive decay. As for light from the farthest galaxies, there's not just that, but the cosmic background radiation which is the leftovers from the Big Bang, itself. All this and too much other evidence to mention speaks to a universe which is 13.78 billion years old and a solar system (ours!) which is around 4.5 billion. Worth note: it's not just that SOME of the evidence is consistent, but ALL OF IT IS. If there were so much as one persistent discontinuity which had no reasonable explanation, the whole thing would have to be thrown out in favor of an hypothesis which allowed for that anomaly. Thus far, no such anomaly has been discovered, much to the chagrin of young-Earth creationists.
If someone wants to posit that their god can accelerate light or change rates of radioactive decay or bury fossils in carefully created geological strata in order to make it APPEAR as though the universe is billions of years old rather than mere thousands, it would suggest that the greatest trickster and con man who ever lived was a rank, feeble amateur by comparison to the creator of this cosmos. Such a mendacious, deceptive and manipulative god would be necessary to explain the tremendous discontinuity between what this deity would have us believe and what supposedly is, if indeed our reality is only a handful of millennia old.
This instantly begs any number of questions, with the one at the top of the list being: WHY? Why create such a detailed, nuanced and utterly coherent LIE? To embarrass science, which works everywhere else? To show off or demonstrate the supposed futility of human knowledge and understanding? Or, just simply, because he can?
The fact is that the YECers want the world to be 6,000 years old because their holy book says it must be that way, and their holy book cannot, MUST NOT be mistaken. They will make any excuse, strain for the least shred of "evidence" that this is so, when there are volumes of data which literally fill whole buildings which say otherwise. This is what happens when you start with a necessary conclusion and attempt to justify it, rather than starting with the evidence and letting that lead you.
The man I met at the lecture -- it was the first time I ever encountered a young earth creationist. I had never heard of it before. Since then they have never ceased to amaze me. (Or perhaps weird me out, rather)
I say, "yes, I can see you'd have to believe that if you believed in the literal truth of the bible. I suppose I would too, in your situation." Enough said.
I don't think it would be worth your while to get into a debate with theists about what scientific evidence implies. No matter how much it implies that the Bible cannot be true theists are generally so obstinate that they will never even consider it. I like to put them on the defensive without using science. That is, I take the very valid position that nothing good would want to be worshiped in the first place so the Bible cannot be a good book. No matter what they say after that I insist that they want me to do something bad.
"nothing good would want to be worshiped" I've not heard that argument before John. I saved it for possible use. Thanks.
When I came-out to my family, I used logic, reason, and science to explain why I was an atheist, because those are the things that convinced me. However, none of my family are nearly as enamored with science as I am.
I don't recall the exact quote, but I remember once reading something to the effect of:
A good god would have no use for worship.
A narcissistic god would demand worship.
Maybe that's not it on the nose, but it sure scans from where I sit.
That is exactly what I think. I believe it could be used powerfully for the Atheist cause.
Ok, this is a little off topic, but... What cause?