Category Archives: creationism

Is it Time to Teach Creation in Schools?

sciI got to thinking about the argument for teaching creationism in schools and how perhaps it might be useful. First, I should make clear that I am completely convinced that there is no scientific merit in creation ‘science’ or so called intelligent design and consequently there is no room for it to be thought as if it were a science. There maybe room for teaching the argument that people want it in schools and telling students what creationist believe and explaining to them that there is no scientific method behind it. Notwithstanding the fact that I have just said that it is not science is there any room for teaching it in science class. I think there might be.

The scientific method is the most fundamental tool in a scientist’s arsenal it helps to ensure that he makes objective arguments rooted in reason and reality. Teaching this is an important part of any science curriculum and perhaps using creation as a case study for teaching the scientific method could be useful. Maybe we could provide the students with the rules for making scientific inquiry and ask them to apply it to creation and make an assessment of the veracity of creation within the context of the parameters of science then ask them to do the same to evolution.

Students can learn a lot about how science works by doing this they will learn what is considered science and how scientific conclusions are reached. Also hopefully it will shoe equip them with the skill to say that creation is not science.

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Funniest Bible Verse

The stupidest verse of the bible is a hard competition to win considering all the very capable contenders but, I think I may have a winner. In the book of numbers the author says “Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.” Numbers 12:3. Fine, this Moses chap may have been humble however, when you find out who wrote the book of numbers it makes a startling difference. The book of numbers is traditionally believed to have been written by–you guessed it the humblest man on Earth, Moses.

This really compliments the theists when the say first, that they are humble then follow it with things like; they know that god exists, they not only know that he exists but, they know who he is, what he wants and how he created the Universe. Humble? I don’t think so.

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god doesn’t give us morals

ChurchMorals How do we know what is moral and what is not? It is the view of religious advocates that religion defines morality and virtue. They say that without religion society would breakdown and immorality would become systemic. But if religion contains so much stuff that we regard as immoral—how can it define our morality? The fact is that religion does not provide our morals what really happens is our internal sense of right and wrong goes though the text of the bible, koran or whatever and tells us what is good and what is bad. Churches have been editing the religion’s morals by picking and choosing what they regard as moral and disregarding the rest or explaining it away with some fancy ecclesiastic double-talk.

Think about it for a second—would you suddenly become feral if one day you were walking home from a night out and were run over by a car and suffered amnesia. Imagine waking up in hospital not knowing where you are or what has happened all your long term memory is gone—you don’t know what the bible is never mind what is in it. Would you no longer feel love for your family? Would you become cruel and violent? This reminds of what Sam Harris had to say in The End of Faith[1]he suggests that if suddenly all man’s knowledge was lost due to some event that cleared our minds of everything that we have learned— at what point would it be necessary to know that the source of morality was born of a virgin?

This all begs the question—where do our morals come from? We know the story of Huckleberry Finn[2] by Mark Twain where a young Huck is confronted with a dilemma—helping his friend Jim escape slavery is stealing—Huck knows that stealing is wrong and he could be damned to hell for it—he is so afraid of it and so indoctrinated by religion he even contemplates handing over his friend by writing a note to Miss Watson however, in the end Huck’s own moral code rules and he tears up the note and helps Jim escape. We all know that Huck did the right thing but what is it that made him do it? It surly was not religion because Huck thought he was going to hell—Huck’s sense of moral duty came from a primordial code of ethical actions built into him that was able to overrule his religious indoctrination.

It might be hard to imagine how we got this moral code. For some they see morality coming from society and being instilled into a child from birth. All children are born a blank slate to be written upon is their morals and ethics. This is the argument made by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in seminal work—Leviathan where he looks at the nature of man and he concludes that man’s natural state is of war—every man against every man—and in this state there is no justice or injustice because as he sees it there is no government to give us justice. One place he regarded as living in this state was America[3] however, things have come along since he wrote this in 1651—he regards the Native Americans as ‘brutish’ and without a system of government no sense of good or bad. Now clearly we know this not to be the case the aboriginal Americans have a sense of moral decency and are not embroiled in a war all against all.

Consider then if our biology has any place in giving us a sense of right and wrong. In Moral Minds[4] Marc Hauser gives us a look at a biological explanation of our morality. He looks at our morals as being very similar to any other organ or our body. He draws on the work of Noam Chomsky and his revolutionising theory of linguistics that showed that human beings have a built-in set of principles that are used to learn a language no matter what it is. To give an example of these rules consider the sentence “Frank is foolish” and the same sentence but with the ‘is’ shortened so “Frank’s foolish”—ok so they both make sense but what is I said “Frank is more foolish the Joe’s” now you know that there is something wrong with that sentence but nobody has ever told you that you cannot shorten the ‘is’ at the end of a sentence and yet you still know not to do it that is because you have a rule in your head that tells you that the ‘s sound is too short and it need to be followed by something.[5] This rule would be the same no matter what language you learnt. The fact that you know this rule but, you do not know how exactly how you know it is what Hauser suggests is is happening with your morality.

The same—what is termed ‘grammar’ of morality—can be found inside us. Hauser takes this argument from outside the realm of philosophical thought and does experiments using the old philosophical fact scenarios like—a train is driving along the track and it is unstoppable it can either keep going and kill five people or take a off-shoot track and kill just one—most people choose instinctively to take the off-shoot track. This is not to suggest that every society has the same morals because this is obviously not correct but, it sets up a basic rule system like killing babies is immoral and has room for variances from person-to-person—society-to-society.

How does this square up to the Darwinian survival of the fittest? How can one be the fittest and therefore spread your genes if you are helping other? Richard Dawkins—one of the world’s most outspoken atheists and leading evolutionary biologists—has written extensively on the subject of the evolution of altruism and morality. In Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene[6] the author explains the process of natural selection and puts into a context the development of altruistic behaviour and how that the genes responsible for that behaviour can be favoured by evolution and thus populate the gene pool. It may be difficult to imagine how some behaviour is beneficial to a gene’s promulgation when on the outside it seems counterintuitive to that ends.

You are made of genes—each one of these genes programmes how you are—what you look like; how tall you are; how you behave virtually every aspect of you is controlled by your genes. Genes make copies of themselves and are spread and mixed with other genes i.e. we have children. But, in this process mistakes are made—small mutations. Long ago imagine there was a single type of gene making copies of itself then one time it made a copy that let it get together with another gene that mutated and by being together they were better off—say for arguments sake the two of them together were able to take the sun’s rays and turn it into their own food like plants do during photosynthesis—this means that these two cells are not better able to make copies of themselves and their ‘children’ can do the same thing they are doing so over time they become stronger and the weaker ones die off. I do not want to give the impression that these genes are alive—they are not making the decision to do anything it is just that they happen to be the best at making sure that they are spread. Over time more complex genes start to mutate and for example form legs to move around and a mind to help think and get away from danger—they are changing and mutating all the time—but building on past successes—creating the best ‘survival machines’[7] for them to be in—if they do not make a good body to live in then they do not get passed on so are wiped out the genes that make the best body get passed on so there are more of them. Eventually these genes formed a survival machine that is us.

So you see that the gene is not trying to keep us alive per se it is just that we do the gene the most good because we are alive long enough to spread it around. So you can imagine a gene that says ‘You are to sacrifice yourself to save ten people with the same gene as me in them.’ This gene would do well because by losing you it has saved 10 other copies of itself and thus made itself fitter—that is the survival of the fittest. But how do we know if them ten people have the same gene in them? Well we don’t—we can guess—our children have half our genes in them so there is a 50%[8] chance that they have that gene in them—this is a why we are so protective of our children—our brother and sisters have the same chance ½—there is a breakdown of all these relationships and why perhaps we feel more protective of our children than our brother and sisters even though the chances are the same in Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene.[9] Some of us would sacrifice ourselves to save 100 strangers is that because the chance that they have the same gene is higher than if it was just two?

Now imagine again Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature—war all against all—imagine now a gene that said ‘help people that help me’ could spread. If we lived in Hobbes’ state of nature we would be under treat all the time so if perhaps we had this gene to help each other out if they help us we would do much better than the people that did not have this gene so this gene would start to spread. Now perhaps imagine one of us in this society had a gene that mutated to say do not help other but take their help then that gene would start to flourish. But then it would just go right back to the start again however, there is a point where an optimal number of both is reached and it would begin to steady out.[10] “’The ants and termites,’ wrote Prince Kropotkin, ‘have renounced the “Hobbesian War”, and they are better for it’”[11]

Let’s take a look now at some of the principles that are genes have given us. So it is one thing to care for your kin because there is a high probability that they share the same genes as you but, the trouble comes when you look at non-family altruism. Where is the Darwinian advantage in that? Well again Prof. Dawkins’ books try to give us an understanding into this process. The first theory of altruism that Prof. Dawkins discusses is the old saying ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’—indeed a very utilitarian adage that has huge merits for a gene that is trying to get passed on. You can see how a society could grow on this concept—if I have the ability to make pots but don’t know how to cook and you need pots and can cook by working together we ensure both of our survival. This concept can be seen to work throughout nature—flowers can’t fly so the pay honey bees to spread their pollen around[12] and we have all seen on wildlife documentaries small birds that are cleaning the parasites from hippopotamuses that cannot do it themselves. In human society the division of labour[13] has allowed us as a species to flourish and has thus caused the spread of the gene that causes this through our generations. It is really quite clear how this system of helping others fits in with our theory of natural selection.

Reputation plays a part in altruism if I build up a reputation for not buying a round of drinks in a pub nobody’s going to include my when they buy a round. It is observable behaviour in the animal kingdom for reputation precede you—in the stickleback fish population there is evidence that shows that the fish will tolerate defection of fish that have stuck by them in the past over fish that have been wimps when they are going to inspect a dangerous predator—they even choose fish to join their expedition parties that have shown high standing in previous situations.[14] Human beings have a much greater ability to remember who was good to them in the past even to the most to people that you only met briefly—we can all run a list down in our heads of people that have ripped us off and we will be very wary of helping them in the future.

Now this brings us to how our genes influence our morals in a general way. Our genes are too slow to make the decisions all by themselves and there are too many situations—infinite numbers—to all be coded for in our genes. So our genes make more general rules i.e. principles. A good analogy here is communicating over great distances—it takes four minutes for messages to get from Earth to Mars travelling at the speed of light—there is no way to make that faster the speed of light is the maximum speed anything can travel—so imagine now we have sent a robot to mars that is remotely controlled from Earth—as it goes about its business of exploring the Martian landscape[15] it takes four minutes for us to get its information and four minutes for it to get our instructions which is clearly too long a time if the robot encounters cliffs for example—so what do we do? Well we build in rules into the robot e.g. if you come to cliffs avoid them. This is sort of like what are genes do for us. However, what are genes are able to do also is allow for parameter input—that is to say the general principles are set out but they allow for more data to be used in order to make the best decisions. So take for example the principle of ‘be fair to people’—this is a general principle that is set by our genes say—now the parameter can then vary from society to society depending on how it works best—there is no universal definition of fairness but it uses the details of the particular society to set its standard.[16]

For a further demonstration our inbuilt moral judgements—consider two scenarios

1) You are driving along in your new sports car and you see a little girl at the side of the road bleeding. He can take her to the hospital but it will cost you time and money to clean the bloody seat—€200.

2) You see video on TV of children in some poor country that need €50 to save 25 of their lives.[17]

Now most of you will say that in case 1 you are obliged to help the little girl and in case 2 most of you will not believe that you are obliged to send the money—although most of you will sympathise you won’t be under huge moral pressure to help. What this indicates is that our genes have not adapted with our psychology to the ever increasing distances that we can communicate in the modern world. Our genes are no used to dealing with great distances and our psychology is having trouble with it too.


[1] Harris, S., “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason” (Free Press, 2006)

[2] Twain, M., “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (Adamant Media Corporation, 1999)

[3] Hobbes, T., “Leviathan” MacPherson, C. B. Ed. (Penguin Classics, 1985) p 187 Part I Chap XIII

[4] Hauser, M. D., “Moral Minds” (Harper Collins, 2006)

[5] Ibid. ( pg 40

[6] Dawkins, R., “The Selfish Gene” (3rd ed Oxford University Press, 2006)

[7] Ibid. ( at chapter 3

[8] For a look at the statistical relationship of family look at Ibid. chapter 6

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid. ( chapter 5

[11] Quoted in Ridley, M., “The Origins of Virtue” (Penguin, 1996)

[12] Dawkins, R., “The God Delusion” (Transworld Publishers, 2006) at p216

[13] Smith, A., “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” (Regnery Gateway, 1999)

[14] Ridley, M., “The Origins of Virtue” (Penguin, 1996) at p82

[15] This analogy is loosely based on Prof. Dawkins’ analogy in his book: Dawkins, R., “The Selfish Gene” (3rd ed Oxford University Press, 2006) at p55

[16] Hauser, M. D., “Moral Minds” (Harper Collins, 2006) at p71

[17] Ibid. (

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Flying Teapot v. God: The Negative Proof


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800pxTouched_by_His_Noodly_AppendageThe worst argument that‘a believer in god can use is the negative proof i.e. when she says “can you prove god doesn’t exist?”- the answer to this is that the onus is on the one asserting a belief to positively prove that to which they assert. We are familiar with this concept in other areas of our society. If we are unfortunate enough to be charged with a crime how unjust would it be if you were told that the prosecutor was not going to adduce any evidence that you committed the crime but you have to prove that you did not break the law?

If this argument is brought to its natural conclusion it can enter into the realm of absolute absurdity. The mere fact that a proposition cannot be disproved does not render it true. This is known as an argument form ignorance which is a logical fallacy- X cannot be proved false therefore it is true. There are innumerable things that you do not believe in that cannot be shown do not exist. Bertrand Russell deals with this question delightfully in his essay “Is There a God?

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.[1]

There are infinite things that are things that cannot be disproved but we do not therefore accept that they are true. In fact taking this position belies all methodology that has advanced our understanding of our Universe. Russell’s teapot is the foundation for numerous incarnations of gods which have arisen to highlight the lunacy of this logic: Invisible Pink Unicorn, flying spaghetti monster. Religious people also try to use this logical fallacy when they say that “You are assuming god is false because we cannot prove he exists” I am not 100% sure that god doesn’t exist–no one is this is an epistemological problem; can we ever be 100% sure about anything?

By using evidence I can explain with greater quality the nature of our universe. The 14th centaury logician William Ockham provides a method of logical reasoning known as ‘Ockham’s Razor’ in which he states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible. Therefore where evidence explains our universe this implies that where there is no evidence to the contrary this solution is valid.


[1] Russell, B., “The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell” Slater, J. G. and P. Köllner Eds. (McMaster University ed G. Allen & Unwin, 1983)

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Teleological

The second argument I am going to deal with on the existence of god is called the teleological argument. Teleology is the philosophical study of design and purpose. For a list of the Arguments of god’s existence see here)

Imagine you were walking along on an alien planet somewhere far away and you stumbled across a pocket watch on the ground—you pick it up and look at how intricate it is and you say to yourself that it must have been made by something intelligent. Now we are more complicated than a watch—we look like we were designed ergo we were designed by a creator. Fred Hoyle’s idea of a whirlwind blowing through a scrap yard and making a Jumbo Jet from the parts he says is a demonstration that complex things need a more complex creator and cannot be created by accident because it is statistically tantamount to impossible. This idea is both wrong and right. Let me explain; we all know that a jumbo jet being created by chance would be more-or-less impossible the same goes for humans as we are more complicated than jets but the fact is this analogy doesn’t apply to our creation because we aren’t suggesting we were created by chance. Anyone that suggests evolution is a process that is similar to a whirlwind in a scrap yard either doesn’t understand evolution or is trying to deceive you.

Evolution does not rely on chance to create complex systems like us. How evolution works is that a simpler organism when reproducing (replicating) will have random mutations if these mutations mean that the new mutated organism is fitter then it spreads its jeans and then the process goes on again. The big difference is that it is not all happening at once no one thinks that a simple organism went to a very complex one all at once like the jumbo jet—what is happening is it is gradually getting more and more complex and it is not just randomly getting like this nature is picking the best one and of the random changes. It is important to see the distinction between random changes and randomly evolving—if five random mutations happen the ones that get passed on to the next generation are not randomly picked—nature picks the best ones. How can nature pick the best ones it’s not alive? Well, by pick I don’t mean consciously choose it is blindly choosing—the ones that aren’t as good at passing their genes around will lose out to the ones that are—so you see it is not a random choice on which ones will get passed on it is the best ones that will get passed on and what is more we don’t need any conscious being to choose the best ones.

This argument is of no real merit now that we can explain how things are they way that they are by using scientific methods and not have to resort to dulling our own intelligence by providing a story of creation as a fact when it has no evidence to support its magic claims.

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Top Five Bible Myths

Top Five Bible Myths

The bible itself contains some excellent myths of such fantastical magnitude that it turns reading Alice in Wonderland and dropping two taps of paper acid seem quite unexciting and normal.There’s so much on the bible’s bollocks but I have to cut it all down.

Number Five: Inconsistencies

If you think that your bible is the inspired inerrant word of the living god then it seems to me that any flaws in it render this proposition false full stop. The bible is supposed to have been written by the creator of the universe but, I think you or I would sit down one afternoon and come up with some way to improve upon it. There’s so many basic mistakes in the text that it couldn’t have been written by an magical being in the sky.

Here’s a small few for you:

How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?

(a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)

(b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
(a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)


(b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)

What was the exact wording on the cross?

(a) “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37)

(b) “The King of the Jews” (Mark 15:26)

(c) “This is the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38)

(d) “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19)

Did Jesus pray to The Father to prevent the crucifixion?

(a) Yes. (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42)

(b) No. (John 12:27)

That’s just a tiny amount. There’s a hell of a lot more.

Number Four: Virgin Birth

Tell me what is more likely—that a woman would conceive a child without doing the nasty or that she would lie about it?

Number Three: Noah’s Flood

There is so many nuts trying to validate a world-wide flood that they have stooped to coming up with bare faced lies. First, if there was a flood that covered the world wide water this would increase water vapour in the atmosphere to a point that it would drown everything just be breathing. Where did all this water come from? There’s a plethora of scientific facts on the problems with a worldwide flood. Google Noah’s flood science for the facts.

Number Two: We Get Our Morals from the Bible

In Genesis 19 the apocalyptic tale of Sodom & Gomorrah has an even more sinister sub-plot—Lot who was held captive in the city was to be rescued by two male angels sent by god—however, as the angles were attempting to rescue Lot and his family they were going to be raped by the city’s inhabitants—Lot was sickened by the thought of these chaste beings being violated barbarically that he offered the hoards his two virgin daughters as fodder but they were uninterested—what they wanted was to sodomise angels. If god was so powerful why would he need to send angels to rescue Lot and risk his angels’ flowers? On a wider picture why is god going around destroying cities and committing genocide?Do you think you are a good person because you read this? Of course not. The old testament is full of people like Abraham who are really not worth anything in terms of moral emulation and god himself is even less of a role model considering what he done to Job and the whim in which he decides to wipe out all life on Earth.

However, we are told that emulation is not the only way that we are to derive our morals from the bible in some places we are directly told in no uncertain terms how we are to act. I suppose the most famous of these is the ten commandments. They are regarded as the ultimate source of morals period god regarded them so important that he chose to write them himself—the only thing he has ever written—and for added dramatics in stone.

The story goes that Moses up on Mount Sinai was confronted by a burning bush i.e. god where he was given a list of god’s holy commandments. However, no sooner than Moses was away up the mountain were his tribe making a golden calf to worship. Moses ran down the mountain and destroyed the calf and sent the tribe off on a holy war Numbers 31 is a particular example of Moses’ divine compassion:

17Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately.

18But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately.

Here is the list given to Moses however, notice that there are 12 in this list that is because different denominations have grouped them differently but the substance remains the same regardless:-

1. I am the Lord thy God.

2. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

3. Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol.

4. Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God.

5. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

6. Honour thy Mother and Father

.7. Thou shalt not murder.

8. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

9. Thou shalt not steal.

10. Thou shalt not bear false witness

11. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife.

12. You shall not covet thy neighbour’s goods.

What could be wrong with this list? It seems ok does it not? Well the first five are just egotistical servility codified. The rest can you tell me that before these were enumerated people thought that all these things were fine to do? This was not a sudden revelation—I do not think that the Faithfull’s hearts would have sank to know that no longer are they allowed to go on murderous rampages or they can no longer steal their father’s shekels to stay out past curfew to see the next stoning of an adulterous wife.

Sam Harris in a speech to the Aspen Ideas Festival makes a astute observation on the ten commandments he asks how could they be improved upon—a divinely written list that no moral could dare to improve— well this daring man suggests some dingers, perhaps—he says Thou Shalt Not Abuse Children or Do not deep fry all your food.

On the internet there are many people who are working on creating their own set of commandments secular in nature and in my opinion improve hugely on the biblical list. Want more examples of what the bible tells us to do? Leviticus 21 is says:-

9 ” ‘If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

10 ” ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

11 ” ‘If a man sleeps with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

12 ” ‘If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

No moral human being would ever subscribe to this twisted standard of righteousness.Is the new testament any better than its predecessor? Well for many the new testament is a modifier that quietens the vicious teachings of the law hitherto. They placate their inherent sensibilities by suggesting that Jesus’ teachings washed away the unpalatable scripture that preceded him.

However, I refer you to:-
18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
— Matthew5

Or

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3

Or

34and the Scripture cannot be broken.
— John 10

The law of the old testament is fully endorsed and incorporated into Jesus’ communion. It seems clear that Jesus did attest to the validity of the law of the old testament as morally acceptable in his church. Why wouldn’t he—sure was it not the same god? Surly an omniscient god would not be disposed to completely reverse all of his past precedent in the 1 CE.

Number One: Creation Myth

In the beginning god created the heavens and the Earth. Open a copy of the bible at page 1 and read this account of the creation of the universe. It’s a far-fetched story of the creation of the universe in 6 days. We have come a long way since these were scrawled onto paper a few thousand years ago. We now know a lot more about science and the genesis of our universe. Of course we are not nearly at the place that we can say exactly how it happened but what we do have is a lot better than this voodoo nonsense.


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