Ancient Aliens

Welcome to Saturday and another Saturday Sermon. I know it’s been a while, but I feel it’s better to write when I feel like it rather than force myself to write something on a schedule. This is why I don’t want to make being a writer or podcaster a career move. Anyway, on to the sermon.

This topic seems a little more suitable for my Illuminati Social Club blog or podcast than for a blog related to the Bible and religion, but bear with me. There was a time when I believed that aliens came to earth and gave ancient man the tools and knowledge to build the pyramids, the Sphinx, the Mayan pyramids, and all the other wonders of the ancient world. However, with age comes wisdom, and it was not long before I realized that the ancient aliens mindset can be seen as racist. After all, if modern white people can’t do it with all of their technology, then how could ancient brown people with simple machines?

These days, the idea of building a pyramid seems like a novelty. Back in ancient Egypt people were paid to build the tombs where the Pharaohs would be laid to rest. That’s because the Pharaoh was the earthly embodiment of the gods who would return to the pantheon upon his (or her) death. There have been a great many hints as to how the blocks of sandstone were carved, moved, and placed found all over Egypt. The reason that the pyramid is seen on at least three different continents is because it is the most structurally sound shape that can withstand wind and rain. The Maya may have build several hundred cuboid and cylindrical structures, but they would have been destroyed by centuries of bad weather. The pyramid is the only one that would have survived. There were no aliens necessary.

According to one author, he interpreted the hieroglyphs and confirmed that aliens did in fact come to earth and share their wisdom. He thought that it would be impossible for ancient people to make up the stories of the gods that Egyptologists claim the hieroglyphs to be. Why? Is it impossible for ancient people to have imaginations? Stories of gods and monsters were akin to science fiction today. These ancient stories sought to explain how the world came to be and how natural processes work. That’s why just about every ancient civilization has a story about a great flood washing away the entire world. It didn’t actually happen, it’s a morality tale, much like the story of Atlantis in Plato’s Republic. There was no Atlantis, it was an allegory akin to the World State of Huxley’s Brave New World, or Oceania in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

All of the same can be said of the Bible. It’s not a literal history book, but more of a moral guide for people living back in the days when those stories were told. It’s hardly a moral guide today though some lessons can be gleaned from its pages. As I stated about Exodus (I can’t remember the chapter), there were many times more words about how to properly worship God than about how to treat one another. That’s because back in those days, people were far more superstitious and thought that gods were responsible for natural disasters, growing seasons, and disease. It was far more important to worship correctly than to treat your neighbor with respect.

Can we please quit disrespecting the history of ancient civilizations by claiming that they were too weak and/or stupid to do any of what they are credited with? Just because they didn’t come up with the smartphone doesn’t mean they couldn’t build a pyramid or imagine far-off lands of strange creatures and technology.

Book Burni…errr…Banning

Does this image make you uncomfortable?
It should.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Saturday Sermon and my regular posts have slowed down a bit. That’s due to my own laziness, I guess. I am also reading an interesting book about the cultural shift that lead to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. I will be writing or podcasting about that at some point.

As you can tell by the title, I am looking back in history to a time when authoritarian leaders and the ignorant people who followed them want to remove what they saw as controversial ideas from the public square. This is something that doesn’t happen anymore and we should be…what? You mean…? Oh crap.

Scratch that above paragraph, it turns out that some state school boards around the country have decided to remove ban books from their schools’ libraries in hopes of “cancelling” those ideas, apparently. The one that has garnered the most press lately is Maus by Art Spiegelman, the first and only graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature. It is the story of the Holocaust as told by the author’s father in comic strip form. The Tennessee school board banned it because of “unnecessary use of profanity and nudity”. Unnecessary profanity about the fucking Holocaust? The most profane event in history? Had I been in that meeting in Tennessee, I would have some very necessary profanity for the school board.

There are many other books on the list that deal with racism, LGBTQ+ subjects, religions other than Christianity, and other topics that make governments “uncomfortable”. Honestly, that’s how I know a book or movie or music is doing something right. People need to be made uncomfortable and to see things from the perspectives that they can’t seem to tolerate. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Do you know which book makes me uncomfortable? The Bible, and yet I am reading it. I’m not only reading it, but I am reading with the goal of understanding it and the people who put it on a pedestal over other humans’ lives the best that I can. So far I’m failing. How anyone can read the flood narrative and say, “Oh, yeah, I can understand why God drowned all of the men, women, and children (including babies) as well all of the animals minus the few that a 600 year-old man and his family took on a boat.” That’s just sick. These are the same people who look at the rest of Exodus and see it as somehow moral when it spends more time talking about how to treat slaves and how to properly worship a deity than it does anything of value.

My advice for everyone, whether you agree with this book banning or not, go read those books. Every time you see that a book is being considered for banning, seek it out and read it. Make yourself uncomfortable, and put yourself into the subject matter. Do not embrace the “cancel culture” of these holier-than-thou school boards who can’t see past the cover of their precious bibles which I would guess many of them have never read.

Staying Optimistic

I needed to take a break from the Bible for a bit. Believe it or not, it’s not the positive, uplifting book that so many people claim it is (I knew that going in, I’m being sarcastic). Also, the daunting task of reading through the laws has set me back a bit. Anyway, I will be getting back to the main objective of this blog soon enough, I just needed to step back and retain what’s left of my sanity.

The world is a complex place and a lot of stuff happens in it all at once, but it seems like way too much stuff is happening at the same time right now. That’s why I’ve been away from here. You see, part of what gives me ideas for Saturday Sermons and other topics I tweet about is a list I keep on the Twitter account. It’s a private list filled with the popular Christian apologists and evangelical pastors. You would probably recognize some of their names, but I won’t name them here because I don’t want to be blocked (one of them is Frank Turek, but I’ve quote-tweeted him, so he knows). I have had to stay away from that list because it makes me weep for humanity. For the record, I do follow a few pastors, a Jesuit priest, and a rabbi and that’s no joke. They are all good people and reading their tweets gives me hope for humanity.

I also mentioned that I’m reading another book and that is Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. I have been meaning to read it for quite a while and recently treated myself to a new Kindle so I can read distraction free. I’ll probably continue reading the bible that way as well.

Final bit of news in case you don’t follow all of my other accounts, I do a podcast called The Illuminati Social Club (ISC), which is casual conversations about science, conspiracy theories, UFOs, religion, and other related topics. I also have a blog for that podcast where I am planning on writing and, of course, recording more episodes.

This is the stuff that keeps me staying away from doom scrolling Twitter and keeping me in a positive frame of mind. If you would like to know more about ISC, you can follow on Twitter @IlluminatiPod and visit the blog http://www.illuminatisocialclub.com. I would appreciate it.

Thank you for putting up with my inconsistency as of late. I’ll get back on track soon.

PS–Note to future self, talk about “toxic positivity” sometime.

Giving Thanks

I have a list on my Twitter account (@AlienBiblical) where I keep an eye on apologists, dime store preachers, and a certain ark replica owner. I stayed away from the list during this long weekend because I don’t need to read these holier-than-thou types asking how somebody who doesn’t believe in their variations of God can possibly celebrate Thanksgiving. I can. I do. I don’t see Thanksgiving as a religious holiday since it is, in the United States, a civic holiday. I don’t need to believe in the God of the Bible or any other gods in order to be thankful.

I’m thankful for my girlfriend who is a wonderful, supportive partner through thick and thin. She’ll deny all of this, but it’s all true.

I’m thank for my family who are also supportive, loving, caring, and helpful. I can never repay them for all that they’ve done for me over the years.

I’m thankful for my job, which I absolutely love doing. I have a great boss who respects my feedback when it comes to my work environment. Also, I work by myself, which is my kind of job.

I’m thankful for those people who respect those around them. I have to assure to myself that they are in the majority.

I’m thankful for a great many things too numerous to mention here. And I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read this and the rest of my blog. It’s a labor of something that I’m doing here, but I’m not sure what.

I would like to wish all of you a Happy Holiday season, and I will be back to posting the Bible study next week.

Refuting Apologetics #2

Once again the intellectual featherweights at Frank Turek’s Cross Examined tossed me a big, fate softball. The article, Infinite Punishment for Finite Crimes? attempts to make sense of this idea of sending people to hell for eternity for a sin that has an expiration date.

“The assumption underlying the challenge here is that there should be some correlation between how long the offending act took to commit and the punishment that is attached to it.”

After reading this article over a few times, the author seems to be saying that non-believers think this way about crime and punishment. Well, breaking news, Mr. Apologist, I don’t know of any atheist who thinks like this. That’s stupid. My contention is that even the crime of murder is finite in effect and the punishment ends with the perpetrator’s end. The effects of the crime may be felt long after, but we’re talking about the punishment in this case.

The author states that God cannot be victimized, but he does have the right to separate himself from those who rejected him. I won’t argue that God can’t be victimized. To reject God presupposes a relationship with God. I don’t believe in a theistic god of any type. I am aware that there is a character in the Bible known as God and that many apologists refer to him, but I can’t get past the logical contradictions. There is one other line in that paragraph, “We are not chosen at random for such punishment.” Tell that to the Calvinists.

And here is why I do not believe that the God of the Bible exists:

“Though our bodies will die, our souls live on. Let’s consider for a moment what this means: while we may have forgotten many, or even most, of the times that we erred, the times that we hurt others, the times that we did not live up to what was expected; He has not. Each of our sins, each of the times that we chose to act or think in a way we knew violated His perfect will, each of those instances may seem to be the distant past to us, but God is not limited by time.”

We’re human and we make mistakes. To think that the supposed, all-powerful creator of the entire universe cares that I took a penny and didn’t leave one, or I lied when I said that I couldn’t go to a co-worker’s party, tells me that people are in an abusive relationship with their God. Why the fuck would this allegedly amazing entity be bothered by humans being, well, HUMAN? Didn’t he apparently make us this way? I don’t understand how this author can seriously think that this kind of relationship is healthy.

“We have chosen to stand before God, unapologetic, demanding that He accept us just as we are, proud of our lives and our choices. Judge us and find us worthy, we demand. What choice does this leave to a perfectly just judge?”

Perfectly just? This author spent the entire article describing a petty and vindictive judge who set up humanity to fail from his first words to Adam. This is the same “perfectly just” judge who spent most of his time passing down his laws to Moses talking about how build and decorate an altar instead giving us actual, useful laws like don’t rape women and children, be a good steward to this planet, and don’t be a dick to others. Perfectly just, my ass.

November Is Coming

Yes, tomorrow, November begins and so does National Novel Writing month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s been a couple of years since I participated and now that I have a couple project ideas, I am going to participate once again. I am going to take the month off from the regular Bible reading posts to bring you some (hopefully) creative and humorous Bible-based satire.

I also have the seed of an idea for a “children’s book” (quotes necessary), but I don’t want to spoil the surprise as I will post at least the introduction on the blog sometime this week. It will show the way my mind works as I read this book.

I will have a couple more chapters of Leviticus done today and I will post those this week, but after that, no more Bible posts until December. That’s okay, I can use the break.

I Don’t Know

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny…”

Isaac Asimov

I have always been fascinated by science and scientific discoveries. It amazes me when a technological marvel created on earth lands on Mars and is able to, almost immediately, send pictures back of its landing spot. I am in awe of the deep space exposures from the Hubble Space Telescope where thousands of galaxies are visible in a tiny spot of “empty sky”. I wish I could have been alive to see the moon landing live on TV. To those that were, know that I envy you greatly.

Those few things and many, many more all started out without knowing whether or not they could be achieved. “Could man go into space and walk on the moon?” The first answer was likely, “I don’t know.” Well, they tried and they succeeded. It all started without knowing whether they could or not.

I love unknowns. There are very big unknowns, such as the origin of the universe and the origin of life itself. We don’t know the answers…yet. It doesn’t help to fill in those unknowns with unscientific guesses or unwarranted belief. Richard Feynman said it best:

You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things. But I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit; if I can’t figure it out, then I go onto something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell — possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.

Richard Feynman

Not knowing something is the starting point for learning it. There are a lot of things that we will not know in this lifetime and that’s okay.

Announcements

I have finished Exodus and will eventually start on Leviticus, which I am not looking forward to, but I will get through it.

The month of November is NaNoWriMo and I will be participating this year. I have a few project ideas in mind and will probably post some of that work on the blog.

The Theory Of Evolution

I have a love-hate relationship with videos that discuss the Theory of Evolution. I understand the theory (theory, by the way, is a body of knowledge made up of facts, laws, and theorems that support the premises made), but I am unable to articulate into words that would make other understand it. In other words, I am not a teacher. There are some things that I can explain about the theory to give it clarity and keep people from making the same, dumb assertions that people like Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, and others of their ilk continually make.

The Theory of Evolution only addresses the diversity of life on the planet. It does not explain the origin of the universe, stars, galaxies, planets, or life itself. Those are different fields of science and each of those fields are at different stages of development. To use an analogy, I am an electronics technician at the PCB (printed circuit board) level which means that I can diagnose and repair a board by replacing integrated circuits (ICs) and discrete components (resistors, capacitors, etc.). I do not need to know how ICs are made or how the PCB is produced in order to do my job. I do know how those things are done and they do not help me in my job at all. What I do need to know are the mathematical laws and theorems associated with electronics theory. There’s that word again.

The word “theory” is not a guess or an assumption. My degree is related to the field of Electronics Theory which is supported by Ohm’s Law, Kirchoff’s Law, the concepts of series and parallel circuits, alternating and direct current (AC and DC), and many other things. The same goes for Evolutionary Theory in that there are laws, theorems, axioms, and other things that support the overall body of knowledge. To be honest, evolution is better supported than gravity in many respects. The theory of evolution is the basis of modern biology.

We are way past Darwin. Darwin wrote books on the subject of evolution, but since then, and even in his own lifetime, Gregor Mendel expanded on it with the discovery of genes. In the 1860s, Friedrich Miescher discovered deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), in the 1950s Waston and Crick, using x-ray crystallography developed by Rosalind Franklin, discovered the double helix structure of DNA. By 2003, the human genome was completely sequenced and progress marches onward and upward. Charles Darwin would be impressed by the work done since his initial discovery.

Science continues to search for answers to the mysteries of the natural world. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to the Theory of Evolution and there are far better resources to search out. There is no controversy and even if (and that’s a massive “if”) the theory is completely disproven, that would not make creationism true by default. Creationism is not science in any sense of the word. Maybe I’ll dive into that next week.

A Lot On My Mind

My mind has been active this week thanks to my Twitter feed, the Bible, and just life in general. Allow me the chance to dump all of this on you right now. Thanks.

The week started off with Dr. Frank Turek tweeting,

Eternity is a concept that is impossible to quantify. As I wrote a while back regarding heaven and hell, eternal reward or punishment for doing finite good or for finite sins is disproportionate at best and immoral at worst. Also, if there is an eternity of bliss or torture after this life, then this life in comparison become but a blink of the eye which renders any meaning here useless to consider. No, this is our one only life. Spend it making the lives of others better by doing good things. Moving along now…

I read through seven chapters of Exodus to come up with Monday’s post, which was comparably short for seven chapters. That’s because in the eleven total chapters from where God first starts giving Moses the laws, the first four commandments and the final seven chapters are all about the care, feeding, and proper worship of the all-powerful God. There is also a large section about the proper treatment of slaves which, if God is all-knowing and all-good, he would not have allowed for the ownership of slaves in the first place. There is one small section that contains laws that make good sense explaining how not to be a jerk, but that’s about it. I could keep going on this thread, but I’m moving on.

I saw a lot of so-called pro-life Christians tweeting about the injunction on the Texas abortion law which got me thinking about gun culture in this country (the US, in case you didn’t know). I tweeted,

How is this perfectly okay? Sure, kids have fire drills and tornado drills, but the latter is an act of nature, the former could be an act of nature or due to human error. An active shooter drill is preparing for the actions of a person who woke up that morning and decided to take up arms and end the lives of children. Think about that.

Announcements:

I only put out one post this week because of all the stuff on my mind. I don’t like forcing myself to write about something in particular when there is so much other stuff going on in my head.

Not that I’ve mentioned it here at all, but I’ve come to a decision on the rest of the Pentateuch. Since it’s mostly laws, I am going to read it through, but I will only be touching on the items of interest that people tend to cite and ignore.

Also, while I have been on a regular posting schedule (Bible posts Monday and Thursday, and the Saturday Sermon), I am going to drop the schedule for the Bible posts. I will still post somewhat regularly, but I need to read other things, too.

Questions For Atheists Answered

From time to time, I will run across questions from religious folks to atheists. Most of them contain many of the same questions, but seeing as how this is my first time posting any of these, they might be all new to you. Seeing as how I’m an atheist, I decided to try answering some of these. These questions come from Cornerstone Church Kingston in the United Kingdom.

Question 1. How do you know there is no God?

Short answer. I don’t.  OK, I’ll give a longer answer. My first question, if I was asked this point-blank without knowledge of my interlocuter, would be, “What do you mean by god?” since many people have their own ideas about god, so I would have to find which faith tradition he/she belongs to.

Since I can tell from the website that this is an evangelical Christian church, I feel safe in assuming that they mean the God of the Bible. First of all, as an atheist, I do not assert that there is no God. I don’t believe in God or gods, it’s really that simple. However, I feel rather confident saying that I know the God of the Bible does not exist simply because he is an amalgam of contradictions. As I am slowly making my way through the Old Testament, I am wondering where this idea of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, and all-loving God comes from. It certainly isn’t this book (I am familiar enough with the rest of the Bible to make this assertion).

Question 2. Where did everything come from?

I’m an electronics technician, not a cosmologist or astrophysicist. Apparently, as an atheist, I am required to know the origins of the universe, the galaxy, the solar system, the planet, the continents, life, species, and everything else. In my day to day life I give very little thought to origins of anything except a) my paycheck, and b) my next meal. This is usually posed as a gotcha question because science doesn’t have all the answers, so it must be the God of the Bible who poofed everything into existence. My answer to this question is, “I don’t know.” And that is a perfectly suitable answer.

Question 3. Why are there human beings?

See my above answer.

Question 4. What is the point of life?

This question is asking about the purpose or meaning of life. I believe that we assign our own meaning to our life and that meaning can change several times. At one time, my purpose was to learn as much as I could about electronics and start a career in that field. These days, I think my girlfriend and her pets give me a pretty good purpose to my life.

Note: I am skipping some of these because I’m not really interested in answering them.

Question 7. Why are you scared of death?

I once heard somebody respond to this question, “It’s not being dead that scares me, it’s the getting dead part.” I like that answer. I believe that death is the end of the line. Once we’re dead, that’s all folks. That makes this life, the one I’m living right now, so much more valuable. I wrote about Heaven and Hell a couple weeks ago, but I believe that if I’m a good person in this life, people will remember me for that and that’s how I want to be remembered.

Question 42: What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?

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