Words of wisdom and miscellaneous facts by Dr. Wysong and others. This is an accumulation over several decades and the accuracy cannot be attested to.
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Most religious believers don't bother with the nitty-gritty details and work required to argue their beliefs intelligently. Instead, they claim faith, which, by definition, requires no defense. Even highly intelligent people working in the sciences and applied fields where strict proof and evidence are required will proudly proclaim religious faith. (While, if they are theistic evolutionists, denying that faith has anything to do with evolution.)
Faith is never something I could feel comfortable with. It's like saying I can believe in any stupid thing I want and that's as legitimate as the laws of geometry or the wrongness of murder.
If we are ever to have a chance at a better world, we must agree that it is always wrong to believe anything on insufficient evidence. Faith without fact is unreasonable. (Hell is best described as a world without reason.) Far better it would be if we simply said we don't know when we don't.
Thomas Jefferson admonished: "Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong . . . you must recur to the pretensions of the (Bible) writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature."
During my Bible-believing days I tried to apply reason as best I could and cited scriptures in support, such as: ". . . do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions . . ." (1John 4:1) Also: "always be ready to make a defense before everyone . . ." (1Peter 3:15; see also Proverbs 14:15; Romans 12:2; 1Thessalonians 5:21) My opponents could, of course, site completely contradictory passages hailing the virtues of blind faith: "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1; etc.)
Well into the nineteenth-century American citizens could be jailed for the blasphemy of Bible criticism. The famous evangelist, Spurgeon, summed up the obligation of the dutiful flock by saying, "If the whole of all evil and wickedness were rolled up into one gigantic black ball of corruption it would be less than the sin of unbelief." To this day there remains a lingering paranoia about being critical of holy books and religions. (Which I must admit to in writing these chapters.)
Belief in belief has the bonus of being politically correct. Somehow, the mere proclamation, "I believe and have faith . . ." is supposed to garner respect and end any dispute. Everything is open to question, just not faith.
But forgotten in this zeal to protect and justify faith is the fact that it is belief that starts the evil. The body merely repeats the impressions that have been made upon it by the mind's beliefs.
Faith and Belief in Search of Facts
Although holy book believers will proudly proclaim their faith-based belief, they inwardly crave facts and evidence to counter criticism and quiet their own suppressed doubts. That's why so much current energy and hope is invested in holy book archeology and scientific creationism.
It's a human failing, called confirmation bias, that we consider and remember evidence that is consistent with our beliefs and ignore evidence that might disconfirm them. It's like looking at a crowd and picking out only our friends.
Consider how reason has been used by Bible believers to chase belief about the shape of the Earth. Isaiah (written about 600-700 B.C.) speaks of the "circle" of the Earth (Isaiah 40:22). That is taken as proof of Bible inspiration since the Earth was not proven to be a circle until it was circumnavigated in the sixteenth century. But even that Bible proof is wrong since the Earth is actually an ellipsoid.
Although the interpretation of that scripture is now taken to be obvious, the round Earth interpretation only came after the sixteenth-century discovery. This is true to form since never do holy books forecast a scientific discovery. Rather, verses are found post hoc—after a scientific discovery— to make the holy book seem like it was accurate science all along, but we were just too sinful or spiritually dumb to get it.
In fact, prior to the discovery of a round Earth and long after Isaiah was written, Bible texts were used to persecute anyone who did not believe the Earth was flat, a disc, had corners, was geometrical, stationary, floated on water, rested on foundations, and, like the Jewish Tabernacle, was the center of the universe.
Moreover, consider that in the above Isaiah 40 verse, the Hebrew word for circle is hwg (chûgh). This is a different word than the Hebrew word for ball or sphere, which is duwr, as used in Isaiah 22:18 (not referring to the shape of the Earth).
It would, therefore, seem that in Isaiah 40 the circle referred to is like a disc that can be seen by standing in an area where one can look to the horizon without obstruction for 360 degrees. As one turns in a circle to view the horizon, there appears to be a perfect circle.
This corresponds to other verses implying that the Earth is a circular disc. For example, in Revelation 1:7 Jesus is said to be coming on a cloud and that "every eye will see him," which, of course, would not be possible for the people on the other side of a round Earth.
During the Dark Ages when the clergy used the Bible to wield absolute power and dictate finality on all matters, the idea of a flat Earth was law. Even today, a twentieth-century Bible-based religion, the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church, fervently holds to a flat Earth cosmology and cites numerous scriptures as proof. (Job 38:12-14; Matthew 4:1-12; Daniel 4: 10,11; etc.) Samuel Rowbotham, a modern-day flat-Earther cites 76 different Bible verses that deny a round Earth.
Even if the Bible taught a spherical Earth, or, more accurately an ellipsoid, that would not be a reason to attribute the book to the Creator. Belief in a round Earth predates the Bible by thousands of years. It was an inference from observation by ancients like Aristotle, Eratosthenes, and Ptolemy observing how the stars and moon circled the Earth, the outline of the Earth on the moon during the lunar cycle, and the disappearance and reappearance of ships on the horizon.
For Bible believers, however, the Earth remained flat. Only with the explorations of Columbus and Magellan in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was the round Earth given religious standing.
Moreover, it was even pronounced that questions about the exact nature of the heavens were wasted effort since the Bible said there was going to be a "new heavens and new Earth." In the meantime, St. Philastrius pronounced that it was heresy not to believe that god hung the stars in the sky each evening and took them down in the morning.
And religions are not quick to come around to the astronomical facts. Galileo, persecuted for claiming the Earth orbited the sun, rather than vice versa, was not absolved by the Catholic Church until 1992. And even today, defenders of the Bible's geocentric view are putting forth selective facts and arguments that the Earth is the focal point of the entire universe. (see: theprinciplemovie.com)
To explain contradictions between the Bible and facts, people of faith say those who read the Bible and believed in a flat and geocentric Earth, and stars hung each evening, just didn't know how to read the text correctly. One gets the sneaking suspicion, however, if discovery had revealed that the Earth was flat and supported by pillars, that the "circle" scripture would be read to mean other than sphere, and the "foundation" scriptures would be heralded as proof of the Bible's science.
Faith is like a talisman that can change any contrary word or fact into support.
The Source of Faith and Belief
Faith and belief are so handy because they are immune to disproof. By definition, faith and belief do not need to be tied to reality, and reality is the only thing that can disprove anything.
We hate the confusion and heavy lifting of self-responsibility, foresight-driven thinking, reflecting upon what is within, sorting through evidence, evaluating all options, and making decisions for ourselves. We hate doubt and like the ease of being told what to do to be safe now and in the hereafter. We want, like fast food, answers in an easy-open package. A book, a material idol that materializes (anthropomorphizes) the Creator, and religion experts to explain what the rules of the biggest dad of all are, fills the bill.
Truth is Anti-Faith and Anti-Belief
Accountants, lawyers, factory workers, taxi drivers, carpenters, doctors, moms, dads, and kids use facts and reason in going about daily life and business. We unscrew caps counter-clockwise, place food in the mouth and not the ears, add and subtract in checkbooks, don't walk into traffic, and push the brakes when we want to stop. What is it that comes over us such that once the topic of religion is brought up a lever is switched in the brain so that rational discourse ends, logical action stops, eyes glaze over, ears seal off, and the mouth spews only unctuous pre-learned incantations?
No, faith and belief are not badges of honor. Any belief not honestly derived, as well as being constantly available for dismissal by open inquiry, is one long sin.
Life is supposed to be an adaptable, dynamic process. Not a living death where we select a belief state (always put forth by authority figures) to shelter us from the tides of inquiry and criticism. Bertrand Russell said, "Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found."
Contrary to faith, things of the Creator are clear, obvious, and unerring. Faith, on the other hand, is the uncoupling of our brains and conscience from the regularity and reality of the world. In other words, faith is credulity.
As such, faith is opposed to the Creator, the epitome of reason and truth. Embracing it is therefore in opposition to the very Creator people think they are confirming.
1. Rules for Finding Truth
2. Truth Is Real and Accessible
3. Origin Choices
4. The Laws of Thermodynamics
5. The Law of Information
6. The Law of Impossibility
7. The Law of Biogenesis
8. The Laws of Chemistry
9. The Law of Time
10. Fossil Problems
11. Have Humans Evolved?
12. Are We Selected Mutants?
13. Favorite Evolution Proofs
14. Why Materialism Is Believed
15. Free Will Proves Creation
17. Biological Machines
18. Nuts, Bolts, Gears, and Rotors Prove Intelligent Design
19. Humans Defy Evolution
20. The Anthropic Universe
21. Evolution’s Impact
22. Putting Religion on the Table
23. How Religion Begins and Develops
24. Religions Cross Pollinate
25. Gods Writing Books
26. Questionable Foundations of Christianity
27. How Best to Measure Holy Books
28. The Ultimate Holy Book Test
29. Religion Unleashed
30. End(s) of the World
31. Defending Holy Books
33. The Source of Goodness
34. Matter is an Illusion
35. Weird Things Disprove Materialism
36. Even Weirder Things
37. Creature Testimony
38. Personal Weirdness
39. Proving Weird Things
40. Skeptics and Debunkers
41. Free Will Proves We Are Other
42. Mind Outside Matter
43. Death is a Return
44. Life After Death
45. Why There is Suffering
46. What the Creator Is and Is Not
47. Thinking’s Destination
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