Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fundamentalists of a new form

I have recently been taken by the phenomenon that is Yahoo! Answers. Mostly, of course, with the religion and spirituality section. It is rather interesting to see the kinds of things asked on that site, as most of it seems to be polarized between fundamentalists. There are fundamentalist atheists and fundamentalist Christians at the forefront of nearly every question. There seems to be more fundamentalists of both atheism and Christianity than anything else. They are usually the first to answer and the first to show their own ignorance. It does happen. And it is mildly irritating to see these people and all of their self-righteous retorts. It is pretty crazy.

However, Christians seem to usually be on the losing side of these sort of arguments, not because they are any less smart, or because atheists are as smart as they claim to be. It is simply because atheists draw their ignorant and rather strange conclusions from scientific evidence. (I am in danger of generalizing, but remember that we are talking about fundamentalists of both faiths.) I think it is time to educate some people on why what they believe to be true isn't always true.

And this is not an attack on atheism in general, just the rather outspoken ones who believe that they cannot possibly misunderstand anything. Or completely not understand it at all.

First we shall begin by defining atheism. The prefix, "a," means "without." "Theism" is the belief in a personalized and/or personified God. Therefore, the word atheism means "without a belief in God." This is taken by some to mean that they do not care whether God exists. Others, who are sometimes labeled as "anti-theists" because of their militant disdain for God and any one who believes in such a being, are put on the radical end of the spectrum. Sometimes atheism can lead to Nihilism, which is either the lack of belief in anything, or the belief that nothing matters enough to warrant believing in. This belief or complete lack of any is hardly regarded as functional and because of this many Nihilists take their own lives. Why? Because it doesn't matter. That's why it isn't more widespread, and as far as life philosophies go is counted as one of the least functional.
In between these forms of atheism, there are gray areas. Atheism ranges from not caring whether God exists or not to being militantly anti-God. (Which is kind of self defeating because by caring so much about something that doesn't exist gives it a very real power over your own existence, thereby proving it exists at least in your head.)

Now that atheism is defined and roughly analyzed, we shall begin with some things atheists have said on Yahoo! Answers. Unfortunately, I do not have direct quotes compiled so I cannot give them to www.fstdt.com to start a fundamentalist atheist section. However, here are paraphrases of many of them:

1. Science disproves religion and the Bible.
Ok. Where to start with this one. The Bible cannot be disproved because it is a book. Either it is nonfiction, therefore parts or all of it are correct and based on real life situations, or it is fiction. If it is non-fiction it is real. Therefore, science can't disprove it. If it is fiction, it is a story and should be read as such, and science can be used to "disprove" many fiction books so it doesn't really matter. Either way, science can't disprove it. Also, as it is logically impossible to completely disprove something, (yes I am aware of the fallacy of proving a negative, and it is true, despite being a fallacy in argument.) Logically the most we can do is say whether or not there is an extreme improbability of something existing. And in some cases where scientists have said this they have been wrong. (Ceolocanth, Madagascar, 1932.) Science is also not meant to really prove anything right or wrong. It is to discover what is, and why it is. Not to say what isn't.
On a similar note, modern science has given up the idea of absolute truth. It doesn't say that something is absolutely true 100% of the time. There is always room for error, and with that comes the room for improvement. Without that room to be wrong, we would be stuck believing that things like maggots randomly appear on meat. That was once considered absolutely true, and scientists that experimented to find out about it were laughed at. Scary isn't it?
And lastly, religion is an umbrella term that covers more than just Christianity. There are also sacred texts that aren't the Bible.

2. Evolution proves God doesn't exist.
This is almost as bad a conclusion as the one that many people try about evolution not being real because the Bible in its literal interpretation and English translation implies otherwise.
God doesn't always refer to the Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian God. It can refer to many different ideas and things that humans see as transcendent in there nature. The only thing that evolution does is cause life forms to change. That is it. It doesn't disprove the theories of the universe being created by an intelligent being. Why? Because evolution deals solely with life. That is it. Not the universe coming into existence. Which scientists are just as in the dark about as the people that wrote the Bible. Abiogenesis, while an interesting theory, doesn't disprove God either. So, despite the fact that some lab students threw nucleic acids in a beaker and they grouped together, they didn't create life. Life is characterized by certain things. Clumps of nucleic acids don't have those things any more than a random jumble of chemicals in a jar. They don't need food or water. They don't reproduce by themselves. They don't have a cell. They don't propel themselves. They don't create symbiotic relationships. They aren't alive. Even if they do have a plasma membrane, they aren't even close to the complexities of the simplest life forms on the planet, bacteria. They don't need. They aren't alive.

3. God can't exist because evil exists.
Wow. Did you think that up all by yourself? Nearly every person on this planet that is in a culture with a religion with a loving God has asked this question. Why do bad things happen? There are so many answers, and using Ockham's razor, (as so many do to claim that God doesn't exist,) This conclusion is illogical. It is to complex of a conclusion for such a question. Why do bad things happen? Well, it could be because it is life. People die, it rains, snows and gets sunny. Hurricanes and fires ravage things. It is part of nature. It has benefits as well. It is only bad to the thing perceiving it as such. Hurricanes can bring rain, ending droughts. Fires clear away underbrush so new plants can grow. Blizzards cause more snow in the mountains, which melts in the spring and travels into rivers keeping rivers from going dry. It isn't really bad for everything. Suffering undergone by humans is often caused by those humans. And even then, it is all in perception. Death can be celebrated instead of mourned. War boosts economies, (current war aside,) and soldiers are trained to be strong in a number of environments. It is a basic tenet of Darwinian evolution that the strongest survive. War has helped us evolve. Not everything is bad.

If I offended anyone, I am sorry, but it kind of offends me when people claim to be open minded and aren't. The atheists that claim these things are as closed minded and ignorant as the fundamentalist Christians they hate. But they don't see it. So, I end this post with a tip. Anyone who researches something should not do so to try to prove themselves right. If you believe in science at all and know anything about it you should know of the scientific method. A hypothesis is a prediction based on prior knowledge. One should not experiment to try to prove a hypothesis correct or incorrect, but they should let the experiment do that itself. All they should do is minimize uncertainty and variables, and research/perform the experiment. They should then collect and record the data/findings and analyze it. If it proves the hypothesis wrong, so be it. If it proves it right, so be it. The experimenter should never try to change the facts. They will just get shot down if they ever try to use wrong facts. I get tired of such ignorant things when the people that say them are constantly bashing others for being closed minded or ignorant. They refuse to see possibilities like the ones they are bashing. They become defensive when they get bashed and refuse to stop their own verbal attacks on others. Worst of all, they claim that fundamentalist Christians are a virus on the face of the earth because they are hypocrites. I call that irony.
Personally, I don't really care for religious fundamentalism in any form. But what can I say. I am probably just naive and ignorant of the true facts.

With that said, I again invite anyone to comment on the things I have said and to give constructive criticism. Excuse any bad grammar and spelling as I tend to type fast and not really proofread. If any of it doesn't make sense I apologize. And as always, thank you for reading.

Your friendly neighborhood Revkale

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Politics and why they suck. (according to me.)

Why I think politics suck:

1. I think that American politicians are setting a double standard. They pass laws to help stop bullying and harassment, and then you have adds like this:
I am an idealist, I know that. But I still think that American politicians should probably spend more man hours and money on actually trying to do something good for the country, and a little less on digging up crap on their opponents. If a running platform is not good enough to win without mudslinging, and candidates aren't able to respect their opponents, they probably shouldn't be elected anyway. They probably don't have good enough ideas to be president and probably aren't a good choice in general. (There are many other examples of mudslinging, dating from America's second presidential election.) Our youth are supposed to want to be presidents and lead this country. They are supposed to idolize these "spectacular" human beings in office. Now, I would probably slap my future child if he/she proposed an interest in being president. I would probably tell him/her to find a decent human being's job, like a lawyer or a doctor.

2. I have been watching debates for the upcoming election. I actually saw Hillary say that she didn't want Obama in office, not because of his inexperience or any other reason, but that she only saw herself as capable of making it into office and beating the Republicans. She was more concerned about a Democrat beating Republicans than she was about any major issue. I understand the days of nationalism are dead, and that true patriots are paid to be, but is it so wrong to want a candidate that actually has a vested interest in this country and it's people, and not an invested interest in this countries assets? Is it so wrong to want an honorable politician to run for president and actually care more about what they stand for than their party beating the other party? I try to temper naiveté with knowledge, but I am allowed to wish that a candidate might arise who would not just try to beat the other party, but try to win because they honestly and truly believe they can make a difference. But maybe I'm just being childish.

3. Political parties. Not as much fun as frat parties and yet there are still more people in them. I do not think all of the American people can be properly represented with only two choices. Where else in life do you have to choose like that? Certainly not at the grocery store. They offer more to drink than orange juice and apple juice. They don't try to force people to choose between two things they may or may not like. It is silly. Just silly. (I like that word.) Again if I am naive forgive me, but I think that more people in America should have a say than the extremely rich in both parties. I think the electoral college is no different than the British house of Lords, which we tried to escape from, unless I be very mistaken. Did we not found this country to try and get everyone represented? Not just those privileged enough to be members of the electoral college. The popular vote doesn't count. The electors don't seem to listen to them. No one does. This is why I don't vote. They tell me I have a voice. My voice is overpowered by the voice of my elector representing my district. My area marking and voting-in-general abilities could probably be put to better use. Maybe I should vote for American Idol, like the rest of America. I seem to have caught on to this trend a little late though, as more people voted for this show than for the last presidential election.

Ahhhhhhh. That felt good. Sorry, I started to rant a little there. Anyway. I won't vote in this election. If you want to try to change my mind, feel free. I will listen and absorb, but unless you give good reasons I will still not vote. I think it is a waste of time and effort. I will continue to refuse to vote until a candidate comes along that I agree with. Not in issues concerning the country. I agree with current candidates on them. (I won't tell you which I agree with, because that is irrelevant,) but I do not agree on their ethics, or lack of them. I do not agree that this country really ever gets anywhere other than further into the hole with every new president. Or occasionally into war with someone. There are the exceptions, and man do I wish I had been alive when they were elected. And able to vote. But until then, I hate American politics.
(British politicians are cool though. Have you ever seen the House of Commons on C-Span? Its like Yo Momma with a few political issues and British accents. Its great!)

(Note: The examples I gave for mudslinging happen to be Democrat. I did not do that on purpose to add a bias or show prejudice, but those are just good examples of what I am talking about and am sure that Republicans and Independents alike do those same things. I apologize for any bias, but like I said, it was unintentional.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wow, I am a slacker!

I haven't posted in over a month! That is crazy! I apologize for that, I have been busy, first just taking care of things in life and then with finals and projects at school. Now I am home and writing again. It is amazing, I have had so many things I wanted to write but just haven't gotten around to it. Oh well. I am back. (For my three or four people who actually read this or something.)

So I have learned a lot of things this year. Already, I know. Its not yet half over and I have learned so much stuff. I roomed with a gay guy, and found I wasn't nearly as tolerant as I originally thought. Hopefully that has changed. It was also kind of funny because he was a Christian, and when he first moved in and saw my book collection he thought I was a Satanist. I told him no and proceeded to show him the Church of Satan website. (Good for a read and interesting ideas, not what one would expect at all. I don't agree with it, but hey, everybody has an opinion right? Check it out, you may learn something too. http://www.churchofsatan.com/home.html)
I am now much more tolerant, and hopefully much more informed on gay culture.

I continue my obsession with religion, and changed my major from digital film production to religious studies. I will enjoy it much more methinks. Well that's it for my life, back to the other stuff next post. Till then my three readers, (lol... Wow, I hate Internet speak,) I bid thee adieu.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Creation of Evolution and Stuff

This post is in response to ross, a reader who commented on the note The Evolution of Creation and the Battle of the Two.

Thanks to everyone so far who has read my rather long and probably boring posts, but to the one who wanted me to clear up some stuff, here we go:

Carbon dating is only applicable to material that has the carbon-14 isotope, which forms in the atmosphere and then becomes part of a carbon dioxide molecule. Carbon dioxide is then taken by an organism capable of photosynthesizing and used. Those organisms are then eaten by other organisms, so in consequence the only places that this radiocarbon can be found are in organic molecules and the atmosphere or water as dissolved carbon dioxide. It is never put into a mineral. It is only good for dating things up to approximately 60,000 years, because it is based on the half-life of the radiocarbon isotope which is about 600 years. After 60,000 there is not enough of the radiocarbon left to test and date. The unstable radiocarbon gives up an electron and an anti-neutrino, (a particle that is neutral and only given out during radioactive decay,) causing it to be changed back into a stable molecule. It is however pretty accurate to within a few decades, when it is done right.

However, radiometric dating is the main reason for the age of the Earth but it uses different molecules than carbon dating. The half-life of any radioactive isotope remains constant, although different isotopes have different half-lives. The time it takes for a certain amount of a substance to get from being radioactive to a stable substance is what is used in determining the age of the Earth. Here is the equation for how the age is found using this information. Potassium-Argon dating is the form of radiometric dating used commonly to derive the age of the Earth, and is fairly accurate with a standard deviation of only about 1 million years. This seems like a lot, but it is actually pretty little when compared to the 4.3 billion years old the earth is estimated to be. Of course this is only in a pretty simple form, but going into greater depth would be tedious and unnecessary, but for the most part these are pretty conclusive and accurate testing methods with margins of error that are minimal compared to the amount they go against. They can’t carbon date you and see when your birthday is, but they can carbon date you in 1000 years and say that you are approximately 1000 years old. Other tests for the age of the earth are done using rock layers and what we know about the patterns in which they are laid down and changed. They give another good estimate for the age of the Earth.

In conclusion, the age of the Earth is a good estimate based on measurements and observation. Of course there is a little discrepancy between exact ages, (ranging from 4 - 4.54 billion years,) but it is rather conclusive that the Earth is really freaking old.

The passage is actually in reference to God creating the animals and leaving them alone but I think I was a little hasty in referencing it. Here is what I meant when I put it in:

After he creates all of the animals in the first chapter of Genesis, he doesn’t do anything else with them aside from have Adam name them. They are pretty much left out of everything else until the flood story which happens a long time after the creation. This is in reference to the whole God creating animals and then letting them do their own thing.

I really only used Darwin’s theory of natural selection as an example. Regardless of whether he refuted his own theory, it remains theory, which by its very nature is not considered fact. This does mean that using his theory to prove evolution as fact is invalid, but this does not disprove evolution. Evolution itself is observable. Microevolution is the kind that is completely explainable. That is when minor variations called mutations randomly appear during mitosis of single celled organisms. This happens in multi-cellular organism, such as humans, also, but usually results in a non productive cell or a cancer. These mutations often allow the single celled organism to better cope with its environment. This is fact. However macroevolution is where it becomes fuzzy. This is the kind that Darwin’s theory tries to explain. Darwin’s theory isn’t about if evolution happens but how evolution happens. It attempts to explain how the variation of animals arrived like it did. The missing link problem is partly explained away in the theory itself. That is why this theory is so popular. It is very well thought out and is the best way proposed so far that the phenomena called macroevolution happens. It is also based on observation. But it remains a mystery as to how macroevolution happens, and so Darwin’s theory remains theory until it is replaced by a better one.

And for the last point, I understand and appreciate the not trying to insult and offend, and even more I appreciate trying to make me a more informed person. I hold that without information, no argument can be won. However, I didn’t say anything about Creationism. Just that too often arguments are stupid and illogical, and carried out by misinformed people. Hence the attempt at humor in the first point of the original post. I thank you for your comment and taking the time to read all of everything, and hope that any confusion is now finally put to rest.

Until another day, your friend Revkale. (With special thanks to ross, for reading commenting and making me back up my points. I probably would have not been nearly as knowledgeable without your help.)

Copyright 2008, Revkale

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I know its been a while since my last post, but I have been a little sick for the past week so I ask you guys to forgive me. As a peace offering, I give you this very long post, and hope you find it interesting, enlightening and so many other -ings it blows your freaking minds.

What is it that makes people want to read? It could be simple interest in the subject matter. It could be a release from the profane. It could be that the reader is just extremely bored and willing to spend the time in the hopes that they glean some sort of interesting information from the material. Of course those are all part of it, or else you wouldn’t have gotten this far in the essay, but what is at the heart of our lust for the written word? It could be any number of factors, from the aforementioned interest in subject matter to a desire to be a character in a story. It could be our ever present need to escape the stress and hazards of the mundane, or it could be a need to find something more in life; a hand stretched out to us, holding the possibility of worlds previously trapped in our imagination. Literature can offer us the words of Gods and men alike, or even words never spoken, but just as meaningful. Literature, whatever its allure has defined civilized society for all ages. But why? What is the power it holds over people?

The main reason that we are drawn to literature is our thirst for knowledge. It doesn’t seem that we can really learn that much from many books, but things are rarely what they seem.

Like tiny moths to the flame we are drawn to the writing, hoping to feed our minds and warm our souls. Reading a book always imparts something on us. Tiny tidbits of information are always given by the author and taken by the reader, whether consciously or not. One may learn different world views, (as cliché as that is,) strange facts that the author took the time to find so that the reader didn’t have to, and most importantly what happens next. Books broaden our minds and make us smarter by the simple fact that we have read them. We are that much more aware of the world; that much less ignorant. We are observers, at the mercy of the author and his/her ability to engage us, and sometimes trick us. We are gullible and naïve and love being them. We read to destroy that part of ourselves. By observing we become smarter, more aware. We grow with every piece we read. Like fertilizer for the mind, a story, work, poem or other form of literature gives us character, influences us and can sometimes change us so profoundly that afterwards we become unrecognizable to ourselves.

An unread book is like a two way mirror, offering a glimpse into the author’s imagination, a glimpse into a world where we can sit back and watch someone else in situations we can only dream about. We see their extraordinary luck, whether that luck be good or bad. We see their decisions, and react to them as if the characters that we are watching are real. We get intimately attached to them, and hate to see them lose. We watch them without their knowledge and have information on them that they often don’t have. We can see what will happen to them and try vainly to warn them. We are voyeurs to their lives, knowing intimate details about their thoughts and the thoughts of others. All of this knowledge gives us a sense of power; a sense of near-omniscience. Of course we don’t have anything remotely close to omniscience as we are only aware of what the author cares to share with us, so even though we are as all-knowing gods to the characters in a book, we are ourselves controlled by the author who is an even more powerful god. Not only does the author see everything as we do, but has the power to control the fates of those characters that we can only watch. They can change the characters and through them change us. We feel for the characters, sometimes knowing them as well as our best friends, and sometimes better even than ourselves. We want them to carry on and on, never stop. We want to be with them as we would with a friend. Spend time, hang out. But eventually the story ends, and so must our attachment to the character, that other person we knew so well.

Literature offers an escape. Worlds so unlike our own that they seem to be just fantasies, even too obtuse for our minds to imagine as possible. The allure of these worlds is that though they seem far removed from our own world they are essentially reflections of it. They contain the same elements as our world. They are seemingly just as developed and complex as ours. The members of those worlds, whatever they may be, more often than not love, hate, suffer from cruelty, death and complex emotions. They, like us, are just people trying to get by in their world. They also have something else, some allure that grips people, making them want to be part of the world in the story. Maybe it’s the valor of the hero, the undying loyalty of the side-kick, the glamour and glory that comes from saving the world. Most people become jaded by the real world. They are told not to expect their dreams to come true and to be practical. So much so that it is like living another life by reading a story. The story proposes a world were dreams are real, and even normal people can become kings. Practicality is just as common as a picture in a novel. The reader thinks “if only it could happen that way.” Literature offers them the answer to the hypothetical and rhetorical question, catching many of them unawares. They don’t expect an answer, and are pleasantly surprised when it comes through a book. Hence the joy of reading.

The written word has inspired millions to live and billions to die. Without out it society could be nothing beyond a tribe. With it, the expression of the human soul are possible. It is the Erector set to the constructs of the imagination. Language itself, as powerful as it is, is the basis for literature. It holds every modern human in its grasp and can manipulate them in so many ways. It is a release. It is binding. It is the fabric of humanity, the enabler of the intellectual and the plaything of the child. It is so much to us.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Evolution of Creation and the Battle of the Two.

Since starting college I’ve witnessed many animosities concerning certain subjects. Abortion, gay marriage, evolution vs. creationism. It is with this last one that I have seen the worst arguments presented by both sides. One side quotes the Bible, the other quotes a theory. Both sides get heated and attack the other, which, we all know, is ad hominem. That, my friends, is a nasty and cankerous little logical fallacy that occurs when people get angry. It is ugly. But to help enlighten on some of those most unruly parts of the common arguments I have this for you:

1. You cannot seek to disprove evolution by saying that neither you nor your grandmother is a monkey. This is a logical fallacy. Just because you find it distasteful that you may be remotely descended from simian fauna doesn't make it not true. You may be ugly and stupid. That is most certainly distasteful but that doesn't mean it is untrue. (Ad Hominem, isn’t it lovely?) The Bible says that God made humans from dirt. This is a little more insulting than a monkey, as dirt is inanimate in and of itself. At least a monkey doesn’t become mud when it’s wet.

2. There is very conclusive evidence that the world is much older than 6000 years. This is undeniable. You cannot disprove evolution based on this. It is simply not true.

3. People that believe in evolution are not all stupid, nor are they all atheists. There is an entire branch of evolutionists that say that God created the universe and then let life take its course. There is even a passage in Genesis that supports this.

4. Evolution itself is a fact. It is observable, and it is real. Darwin’s theory of evolution is just one theory as to how that fact comes about. A theory is a commonly held notion that is accepted until the next notion that is slightly better comes up. IT IS NOT FACT!

I hope this clears the argument up a little bit. Just some thoughts.

Copyright 2008 RevKale All Rights Reserved.

First Post

Howdy. I am revkale, and this is my blog. Of course you knew that already as you're reading it.
Anyway I figured I would start this blog thing with a little introduction to me and what I write about. I am a college student in Arkansas, but don't fault me for that. I have a near obsession with religion and philosophy, thinking them two of the most important subjects in human history, and will probably write most about those. If you don't like that then this blog probably isn't for you. I apologize if I offend anyone, but it will probably happen, so brace yourself.

Finally, I am a strange person, and will probably say some strange things, but even if you don't enjoy my blog and become a devoted fan, I will still write things, and I hope you are interested in them.

Brace yourself! Revkale found the Internet!