I am not a monkey!

July 13, 2007

This is one of my wife’s biggest arguments.  She will often tell me that she isn’t a decendant of a monkey, but I can be if I want to.

The Watchtower Society has printed a number of articles in their Watchtower pamphlet, as well as a book on Creation vs Evolution.  A summary of their beliefs are here.  A couple of excerpts:

Would you be happy to go through life with no purpose other than to eat, sleep, and reproduce? The thought repels even dedicated evolutionists. “Modern man, this enlightened skeptic and agnostic,” writes evolutionist T. Dobzhansky, “cannot refrain from at least secretly wondering about the old questions: Does my life have some meaning and purpose over and above keeping myself alive and continuing the chain of living? Does the universe in which I live have some meaning?”

And then they go on to quote some scientists:

Evolutionist Michael C. Corballis observes that “there is a striking discontinuity between humans and the other primates . . . ‘Our brain is three times as large as we would expect for a primate of our build.‘” And neurologist Richard M. Restak explains: “The [human] brain is the only organ in the known universe that seeks to understand itself.”

And that’s just a brief summation, but you get the idea.

This is a very common debate tactic when going arguing against Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am sure many other Christian religions.  The “Many scientists have doubts about evolution,” “The gap between apes and man,” etc.  Talk origins does an excellent job of breaking down each of these arguments and many others, and I am paraphrasing from there.

The main argument is that as high as 5% (some articles claim higher) of scientists do not believe in evolution.  That number is already pretty low, yet goes down to a whopping 0.15% when you only poll scientists in the relevant earth and life sciences.  And this is in the US, where there is a higher percentage of creationists.

On the gap theory, it took MILLIONS OF YEARS for men to fully evolve from apes.  Creationists have been arguing the absence of fossils for decades, yet each year more and more fossils are found, with a gradual increase in brain size leading up to humans.

So a brief answer to my wife and other creationists:  No, you are not a monkey.  You are however a couple of chromosomes away from being one.  And that’s ok, it doesn’t make us apes.  It makes us the evolutionary descendants of apes.

To me, the Theory of Evolution came easily and at a young age.  I couldn’t understand why there was even a big debate about it.  The evidence is pretty cut and dry.  Yet, here we are 25 years after I knew evolution is what happened, and there are very big debates about it on TV, the internet, and in our daily lives.  Intelligent people try and use a book written by men more than 2000 years ago trying to understand the meaning of life and force it to fit their need of a God and afterlife.  For a reality check on this see this old post by pharyngula, one of the best I have read.

Lastly, think about this.  The airplane was invented just over 100 years ago by the Wright brothers.  60+ years after that we managed to get to the moon.  Another 40 years later we have crawlers on Mars and probes leaving our solar system.  Where will be in another 100 years?  How about 2000 years?  It’s not going to happen in my lifetime but eventually we will have enough knowledge to finally rid ourselves of the tales written long ago.

And the people wandering the earth then will be saying “I didn’t evolve from a human!”

Never Opened Myself This Way

May 10, 2007

When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it, and I am still unsure.  I have a lot of interests, and I can also rant about a lot of things.   When I decided to post my beliefs about religion on my last post I started reading a few blogs on similar topics, and there are a number of excellent blogs that have very good opinions dedicated to the very topic, my two favorite being http://agnosticatheism.wordpress.com/ and http://evolutionspace.wordpress.com/

After visiting the above blogs and others I noticed a lot of the better ones are topic specific, and I was considering trying to do emulate that.  But even though I know a lot about sports I would get bored with that after awhile I think.  Plus there are about 500,000 sports blogs out there already.  I was also surprised at both the number of evolutionist, atheist, fundamentalist, and various other religion based blogs are out there.  And most of the authors of those blogs are much more informed on those particular topics than myself.  So for now I have decided to keep doing my rambling random thoughts.

Now, to continue where I left off.  So how did an agnostic-atheist ever get married to a Jehovah’s Witness?  How are they still married?

First, let me start out by saying Jehovah’s Witnesses get a bad rap.  I didn’t know a thing about them before I met my wife, and my mental image of a Jehovah’s Witness before I her was a picture of a Hare Krishna with a tamborine.  Which probably came from some sitcom or TV show in the 60′s or 70′s.  I thought of it as a true cult ala the recent Heaven’s Gate or something like that.  Now, there is definitely some cult characteristics in Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it is nothing like those. 

A devout Jehovah’s Witness studies the Bible regularly.  Granted, it’s their own version which many biblical scholars question their translation (and as per my previous post, you can probably guess that it doesn’t really matter to me the translation).  Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in Hell.  If you are evil or “wicked” in their terms, then when you die you die.  They don’t believe in a heaven per se, they believe that Paradise will happen on earth when Jehovah gets rid of all of the wicked people.  And the good people that died in the past will be a part of that resurrection.  You can learn more of the basics at their page on wikipedia–http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jehovah%27s_witnesses.  All of that being said, I have been to a number of Witness “meetings” with my wife, and in the past I have been to countless other church sermons, including Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, and Baptist.  And while all have their differences, they are all very similar as well.  Every group seems to tweak the Bible’s meanings to their liking, and while most devout believers in any of the faiths probably think theirs is the best, or truest, or whatever, really they are all about the same thing.  When we die, if you are good and obeyed God’s law, you go to Heaven or Paradise, if you are evil you die or go to Hell.

When my wife and I were first married, we had a few issues over religion.  I think when we were dating she thought she would somehow convert me eventually.  Keep in mind, she was born into the religion, her mother became a Witness when she was very young.  It was all she knew.  One thing that does make the Witnesses cultish, is if an entire family is in the Truth (another name for them), and one of the members of the family isn’t doing right, they can get disfellowshipped, or kicked out.  It is then encouraged to the rest of the family to not associate themselves with that family member until they change their evil ways.  Now, before my wife and I were married we lived together, and her family got her disfellowshipped.  When that happened I was actually happy because I didn’t like the pressures they put on her and our relationship.  But being cut off from most of her family was bad her and for our relationship, as she had few outside (worldly) friends.  After we married, she was allowed back in, and even though we have had our bouts over her religion, in the long run our differences have helped our marriage prosper.  She has seen their is an outside world that she never knew about because of her religion and family.  And while I will never belong to any religion I have learned a lot about hers and the value that can be taught from it.  Truthfully, I think values can be taught no matter whether you are religious or an atheist, but if believing in God or Jehovah can give you values and meaning, then so be it.  My wife is one of the finest human beings I have ever met, and while I believe a lot of her values were taught to her by her parents, I am sure being a Witness helped that along.

We rarely argue about religion any more.  When we were first together she would often wonder how I could not believe in God.  We had many discussions on the Bible and it’s accuracy.  She often said that I was taking the easier route.  I don’t have to be accountable.  And that’s not true.  Just because one doesn’t believe in God doesn’t mean you don’t want to do the right things.  I actually think it’s better that I am an atheist rather than say a Catholic or Baptist.  That would cause much more conflict with a Witness than me actually not believing at all.

The last thing I want to touch on this topic for now is acceptance.  For whatever reason atheists are looked down upon in the world.  It’s a weird thing.  If a group of people are together and you have a Catholic, Muslim, Jew, Baptist, Methodist, and an atheist and the topic of religion is brought up the atheist will be looked down upon by the rest of the group.  In a recent internet poll I saw that 90% answered they believed in God.  Now that poll isn’t 100% accurate, because I would venture that most atheists would be resistant to volunteering for an internet poll.  The owner of the company I work at and many of the workers here often discuss church functions and the like.  If I were to suddenly bring up that I am an atheist I would be looked down upon here, so no one knows how I feel, which is fine.  I just find it interesting.

The Orders Came From High Above They Say

May 4, 2007

I am pretty much an atheist.  I say pretty much because I have had some strange things happen to me that make me wonder if something is out there, which I guess would make me agnostic, but I just don’t believe the Bible.  And I have read it.  I went to church semi-regularly as a child and my wife is very religious-I’ll talk about that more shortly.   I don’t believe the flood or Noah’s ark happened.  I don’t believe Jonah was swallowed by a whale and lived to tell about it.  I don’t believe Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt.  And don’t get me started on how man used to live to over 500 years old.  These are stories that were handed down over generations.  I believe there was a flood, and many scientists concur their probably was a great flood around 5600 BCE.  This is probably where the Noah stories started.  I do believe Jesus existed and was a minister, but sorry, I don’t believe in the resurrection.

It’s been a few years since I searched the internet looking up this topic, and my, in just 4-5 years it’s amazing to me how many more creationist sites are out there now.  I found one that is in such denial here, it is debating whether or not Noah took dinosaurs on the ark!  It is a fact that dinosaurs were extinct for 60 million years before man even showed up!  The continents were all together when the dinosaurs were on the earth, and after they went extinct and amphibians, marsupials and mammals began to take over the earth.

What I don’t understand is some of the religions that refuse to believe that the Bible could be wrong.  It must be true, it was written with the help of God!  No, it was written by men to help further along Christianity.  Most of the New Testament was written, what decades after Jesus’ death?  Now I know that everyone wants to believe that it was God writing the Bible and not Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John promoting their agenda, but that is not the case.  And think about it, we can’t figure out who killed Kennedy and it’s only been what, 44 years?  And that was filmed!  And yet everyone going to church is going to go along with resurrection story.  And I understand, that is why it is called faith.  You must have faith to believe in all of that, but I am going to go on the evidence, at least the evidence that is available.

Lastly, the other amazing thing to me is people involved in religion.  I have already mentioned the numerous creation websites that have been fruitful and multiplied over the past five years.  There are a lot of good people involved with all religions, whether it is Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, it doesn’t matter.  Yet it is amazing to me how many people that claim they are of religious faith (or at least believe in God) yet do not uphold to the very basic rules of God.  It is also not uncommon to have acquaintences of mine who are religious try to preach to me are some of the most hypocritical people I have ever met.

If you are interested in more this site pretty much follows with what I believe.

I actually have a lot more to say on this topic but this is good for now.  My next post will be on how I married a devout Jehovah’s Witness!  No kidding. 


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