Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 ~

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Biblical poems, are much more interesting, would you like some more?

I read the Bible.
I searched for the evidence.
I couldn't find it.

They said, "Just have faith".
That didn't make any sense.
I couldn't believe.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why don't you pray to Thor for rain?

When you look out at the natural world, what do you see? Whatever you see, and however you interpret it, I think it's very human to seek an explanation for it. People have been coming up with explanations for the natural world for thousands of years, at least since the invention of writing, and probably much earlier than that. If you look at the explanations offered over time you will notice some patterns emerging. Our explanations for things changed over time, just as we humans have changed. I doubt you would find the oldest explanations compelling. Is Thor responsible for storms? We still celebrate Thor's day (Thursday) every week. Should we offer sacrifices to a fertility goddess? Are there any ancient superstitious rituals that are still practised today?

Monday, March 13, 2017

There once was a book called the Bible

It was Adam and Eve in the garden
And God said, "I do beg your pardon.
New rule, this just in,
Eating fruit’s now a sin,
And for goodness sake please put some garb on!"

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Viruses and floods require an Intelligent Designer

One of the most common arguments used by believers for the existence of God is the "argument from design". Perhaps you've heard it as "Just look at the trees", or "How could all of this just happen by chance?". These are essentially just ways of saying that because nature is complex, therefore it must have been designed by some intelligent being.

The core assertion is that "complexity necessarily implies design, and design requires an intelligent designer", or simply just "complexity requires an intelligent designer". Lately I've noticed that another assertion has been added to the mix, namely "information requires an intelligent designer". This is very similar to the argument from complexity, and on closer inspection it seems that the logic underlying it is indeed the same, and therefore so are its flaws.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Christadelphians and the meaning of life

Last year I wrote a series of articles about finding meaning in life without God. I found it to be a very interesting topic to explore, and quite personal too. But until recently I had not spent much time thinking about how Christadelphians find meaning in life with God. It's one of those things that is often just assumed or taken for granted. Now obviously I cannot speak for other Christadelphians and I have no empirical data from which to draw any conclusions about them, but I can talk about what I found meaningful back when I was a Christadelphian, and perhaps some others will be able to relate to that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Christadelphian Reality Distortion

The alternate, distorted reality that is Christadelphianism includes several defence mechanisms that appear to be quite effective at keeping people from looking too far outside the religion, if they look outside it at all. Many of these mechanisms are perpetuated both indirectly through culture and directly through Sunday School indoctrination and regular reinforcement.

When I talk about reality distortion, I am specifically referring to ways in which Christadelphians inherit or acquire a view of the world that not only differs from what modern societies consider "normal", but also directly contradicts our best understanding of reality. While this distorted worldview evidently does not prevent Christadelphians from functioning within society, and there is nothing stopping anyone from believing whatever they want, I consider it somewhat harmful and even potentially malicious when children are indoctrinated with these distortions and taught that it is in fact the rest of society (all 7 billion of them) that have lost their way.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Leaving the Christadelphians

Growing up as a Christadelphian can feel normal enough. We may have been seen as a bit "different" at school or university, but going to church is still generally respected and people rarely ask too many questions about it. That, too, is kind of still normal enough. It was sometimes difficult coming up with interesting answers to, "So what did you do on the weekend?", but we survived. The camps were fun (well, the free time was anyway). We had large organised events for young people, and regular opportunities to meet new people and have a good chat over supper.

For the most part, this was our life. But there was something else. Life as a Christadelphian was really all about one thing, and one thing only. Getting into the kingdom. That's all that mattered, and the Christadelphian community had created a framework and ecosystem spanning almost every part of life, all geared towards that goal. From Sunday School, to youth group events, to baptism instruction, to ecclesial duties, to outings, to teaching, to getting married, to preaching, and even to funerals, they had it all covered. Everything we needed in order to keep us on the straight and narrow path was catered for, complete with both positive and negative feedback mechanisms to encourage and enforce certain patterns of behaviour. There was also sometimes that positive community spirit of helping each other along the often difficult path, that "narrow way that leads to life". We were the lucky ones to have been born into the one true religion. Christadelphian life wasn't easy, but God would surely reward our struggles by granting us eternal life when Jesus returned.

And it almost made sense. Almost.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Was Jesus perfect?

There is a danger in elevating a single person or book above all others. We become blinded to the flaws, and become persuaded through our bias. We can all recognise this danger when it comes to almost every other area of life (and especially other religions), and yet the Bible is still often held as a book never to be questioned. The irony screams pretty loud here.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Does DNA require God?

I recently had the misfortune of arguing with a creationist who insisted that DNA is (or contains) information, and that information requires an intelligent creator (God, of course). This appears to be the latest angle creationists pursue in order to cling to some form of perceived relevance in today's scientific world.

First, let me just point out that it's interesting and perhaps encouraging to see that certain other long-debunked arguments for creationism are now advanced less often than before. Progress of a kind. Creationism will be with us for a while yet though, because it is almost never purely the result of careful examination of the evidence. These people typically became creationists as children, and then invented (or learned) creative ways of defending that belief as adults. Meanwhile, it is estimated that over 99% of those who have studied the evidence most carefully, accept evolution.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Ontological Argument

The various arguments for the existence of God were not often employed by Christadelphians back when I was a member. I'm not sure if it's because they were not aware of them, or because the arguments were made by non-Christadelphians, or some other reason.

Nevertheless, the arguments do surface occasionally, and in this article I thought it would be interesting to look at the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Christadelphian Story

In the beginning, there was a super intelligent being, called God. Except there was no beginning, because God had always existed. Forever.

One day, God decided to create a universe, as you do. He made it full of about 2 trillion galaxies, each containing about 100 billion stars, and around many of the stars he created several planets.

Then he picked just one planet, and created all living things on it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Return Of Israel

Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence Christians (and especially Christadelphians) point to is the re-establishment of the nation of Israel and the return of the Jews to the land.

It is claimed that the events in the middle of the 20th century are direct fulfilments of prophecies made in both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible. These are bold claims, and worthy of some scrutiny.

The Resurrection Of Jesus

It is sometimes claimed by apologists that the resurrection of Jesus is the most parsimonious explanation for various "facts" from first century Palestine. That is, they claim Jesus's resurrection is the best explanation for the fact that Jesus died by crucifixion, was buried, and later the tomb was found empty by his followers, who became convinced he rose from the dead, and went on to boldly devote their life to promoting his teachings and proclaiming that he had risen from the dead.

If you're a believer, it sounds enticing, because you have all of these details that have supposedly been confirmed as historically accurate, and you have a single explanation that ties them all together.

But reality is never this simple. Let's have a closer look at these "facts"...

The Big Picture

Something that occasionally crosses my mind is the thought that perhaps there is some detail I overlooked during my deconversion and that maybe the Bible is all true and I've been horribly mistaken. I'm sure such thoughts are common to all of us at some point, but it's actually a good opportunity to explore the kinds of things that might indicate that I'm mistaken, or the kinds of evidence we should expect to find if the Bible is in fact true.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Another Failed Prophecy: The scattering of Egypt?

I recently came across this passage in Ezekiel 30:
"Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says: Look, I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and I will break his arms, the strong arm and the broken one, and I will make the sword drop from his hand. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among foreign countries."
Ezekiel 30:22-23 NET (Emphasis mine)
So...when did that happen?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What is the evidence for evolution, and why do people believe it?

In this article I want to list some of the reasons why so many people, including the vast majority of scientists, believe in evolution.

Even if you are a creationist, it's important to understand not only what other people believe, but also why they find it compelling. If you cannot fathom how any sane, rational person could believe in evolution, then maybe what you call 'evolution' is not actually what people believe. Maybe they believe something else, instead.

So let's take a look at some lines of evidence...

Why did I start believing in evolution?

"Why are so many scientists, and especially biologists, convinced that evolution is true?"

This was a question I actually pondered occasionally back when I was a Christadelphian.

For the most part, I found myself satisfied with very dismissive and glib answers, such as that scientists just didn't want to accept God, or that they had all been deceived through the spread of cunning, humanistic ideas. At no point did I consider that scientists might have had a much deeper understanding of the natural world than I did, and might have been convinced by virtue of a wealth of evidence. I think perhaps one reason why I did not consider these possibilities is because in my mind, the Bible said God created everything, and since I believed it was absolutely the word of God, the idea that any human could somehow "know" something contrary to that just seemed impossible. Therefore evolution "must" have been false, because creation "must" have been true. I wonder if other believers still think this way.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Evolutionary Creationism and the Christadelphians

Evolutionary Creationism is the idea that the Bible and science need not be in conflict with regard to our origins. Also known as Theistic Evolution, it attempts to reconcile the vast and compelling evidence for evolution with views about God and creation, and often those found in the Bible specifically.

I came to understand Theistic Evolution around the same time that I was grappling with various other questions about the Bible, from both a scientific and textual perspective. Understanding how to reconcile Genesis with science allowed me to review the scientific evidence anew without the fear that it would destroy my faith. For a while I accepted it, and it all made sense. Well, almost all of it. But I was sure that any remaining issues with the theory could be resolved in due course.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Divine Santa

I don't know if a god exists. I don't think anyone really knows. For one, the concept of God (or gods) is often poorly defined. And when you push people for definitions, either the definitions are so vague as to not be descriptive at all, or you start to find differences between the types of gods people believe in.

There is not just one single concept of God.

That might be a surprise to some people. Surely everyone knows who God is? Well, not exactly. What you mean by "God" is almost certainly different to what other people mean by "God", and because people are getting their views about God from different sources, and via different interpretations of those sources, and sometimes inferring things about God from their own experiences, there are inevitably many differences between those views.

So I want to discuss some different views about God...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Good without God?

Religions often claim to be the custodians of morality. Some claim that morality can only come from God, and that to be truly moral means to follow the various laws or tenets of the religion, or to follow God's ways.

But when we actually examine what religions claim is moral behaviour, it all-too-often boils down to some version of carrot and stick. Do this, and you'll be rewarded. Don't do that, or you'll be punished.

Is that morality? I beg to differ.