Living After Faith now has theme music, compliments of Kevin Byrne. Kevin was a minister of music who left faith, and is moving up in Seattle’s music scene. This episode features some of his music, and his story of escaping an abusive xtian group.
In this episode we talk with Dustin Williams, a former Seventh Day Adventist seminary student who left faith, and discovered sexual hangups during his recovery. His creative way of overcoming can be both educational and inspirational.
Rich used to believe and preach that it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in god. Now he doesn’t believe that, and obviously doesn’t preach it anymore.
I don’t remember who I stole the illustration in the sermon from, but here’s how it would go:
(Preacher Mode ON)
Imagine you have the finest Rolex watch ever made, and I run it through a super-powerful shredder that rips it into tiny pieces no larger than the head of a pin, or the eye of a needle.
Then I give you the expensive pile of metal, tightly sealed in a plastic box, with the instructions to shake the box until it becomes a watch again. But not just any watch, YOUR watch, and running at the correct time.
If you have any sense, you will tell me that is impossible.
Now, Imagine how much more complex the human hand is than your watch. Or the eye, for that matter. And the human brain.
I find it much easier to believe shaking watch bits in a box will produce a watch than thinking the emptiness of space will spontaneously produce atoms and molecules from nothing, then those will rush together to make a hand, eye, brain — whole humans, not just running with the clock set, but LIVING.
But go a step further, not just living, but living in a planet that yields to the efforts of that hand, and gives man his desires — a planet that can be understood by that brain, so man can make things that bring him comfort and pleasure. But not just that, a planet that is not only pleasing, but gorgeous to that miraculous eye.
(Insert half an hour of random non-sense “Tide goes in, tide goes out,” statements, catch the praise singer’s eye, start altar call)
(Preacher Mode OFF)
There are people who still feed me my own lines and ask HOW can I not still believe that.
If all you do is listen to my argument, it sounds good (to believers who don’t believe god allows critical thought). But the second you start to think about it, it falls apart.
Here are some reasons why.
First, it assumes the end product before the process begins. The universe does not operate with the concept that man is the completion of it’s process, and earth is the height of its potential. The universe just is. When the big bang happened, it didn’t happen with goals and specifics in mind. There was no mind. There are no goals or specifics. It just is. What we are is a product of where we are and that is a product of trillions and trillions of random events over untold eons of time.
Next, to compare shaking a box filled with a limited amount of stuff to the practically infinite energy and stuff in the universe is a foolish analogy.
There is nothing going on inside that box that could produce a watch. There is no heat to melt the metals, no chemical processes to combine stuff, nothing that can possibly cause a watch to pop out.
With the universe, there is perhaps unlimited space, time and chemical process of all types happening. And while these processes seem best at creating black holes and piles of gunk, those piles of gunk find some order and become other stuff, like stars and planets.
I recently had a christian wrongly quote “facts” about how a single change of unmeasurable proportions in the earth’s position to the sun, the angle, speed or rotation would render the planet unsuitable for any life at all. First, that isn’t even true. Scientists have discovered that there is a pretty wide range of things you could change about the earth, and she would still be suitable for life.
But even if it were true, all that would mean is that earth was not a planet with life on it. It wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of other planets hitting that magic “life-spot” in relation to their stars. When you put the argument to the entire scale of the universe, it loses it’s punch.
Finally, the box illustration assumes everything that is in the box is all that is needed to make a watch. That’s not true.
There are tons of rock that were mined to get at that metal, and that’s not in the box. There are centuries of human knowledge and study that went into making the watch, and they aren’t in the box either.
There’s a watch factory that is strangely missing from the box. Basically, while there is a shredded watch in the box, there isn’t anything in the box that can make a watch.
The universe is just the opposite. There’s plenty of stuff to make worlds and stars and moons and hands and eyes and brains. Not only are the raw elements and atoms and molecules there, but the processes needed for them to come together are all there as well.
I realize my writing here is not anything close to scientific. I’m not trying to write science.
One thing I’ve realized is that in our religious lives, we signed on to arguments like the one I cite above, and sometimes we hear them again, and they call to our sense of familiar. We might catch ourselves thinking for just a moment, “Maybe the eye IS too complex!” Then we banish the thought as silly.
Just like we were taught in church to do with thoughts that go contrary to our current way of believing.
This article really isn’t about creation versus cosmology, or creation versus evolution. It’s about having the courage to look at the arguments that once comforted your christian heart, and googling and reading your heart out to find true answers that may not be as comforting at the moment, but will take you miles, even light years ahead in your ability to skeptically understand the world around you.
Here’s a challenge. Think about the “arguments” for your previous faith. Post them here, with your argument why they are bogus, and let’s discuss.
Extra credit: Rip my “watch in a box” argument up!
Let’s have fun!
How would you feel about longer podcasts? We have several really good interviews in the recorder that NEED to be kept together to keep the relevance of the stories intact. I can break them up, but I don’t feel like that does justice to the teller or the listener.
I’m finding as I speak with more people, and get them to tell their stories, that it takes more time than our traditional 20 minutes. I really want to bring the stories together as a solid unit rather than breaking them up.
They would be about an hour, or actually a little under. Please comment and let me know.
Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University. He was a child evangelist at the age of 9, and discovered his religion was wrong. Hear him tell his story of how he left religion, and became a world renowned atheist scholar and author.
Hector Avalos will be speaking at the American Atheists Convention April 21-24 in Des Moines, Iowa.
His books are available at Amazon.
We talk to David Silverman, President of American Atheists, about coming out as an atheist and the benefits of meeting other people who feel the same way you do.
We also talk about the upcoming American Atheists National Convention, this April in Des Moines Iowa. We’re going, are you?