Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review: How Modern Science and Neurology Destroys Christianity

This pamphlet by +Truman Smith was a delight to read, concisely putting forth four blows to modern Christianity, with a slight tangent into the reliability of the Bible. It is well worth the read, and has a nice font size on the front cover and heading of every page to garner you some looks while reading it on public transit, as I learned recently while riding the MAX in Portland.

It breaks down to an argument from evolution, an argument from neurology, how god is evil, and the gospel is just plain nonsense. He goes on a bit further to show the folly in so-called "Evolutionary Creationist", and the corollary of conceding even one of his points when dealing with Christianity.

Emergence was a topic that I hadn't thought about much before.  Recently scientists have shown even more so that our genetics aren't so much exactly who we are, but it is the combination of genetics, environment and experience that makes you you, and me me.  I like to think of this as the process of me dying multiple times over in a single lifetime.  The me today is not the same as the me from yesterday, or yesteryear.  The child my mother once knew and raised is no more, neither is the mother who gave me nurture.  As experience and knowledge has accrued the self that I once was has been laid to rest with the emergence of a new being, one whom I hope is more thoughtful and loving.

The one argument that I kept hearing going through my head is from my old bishop who said, regarding the genocides in the bible, "But they aren't dead."  The problem with this statement is it takes life and deludes it of anything that is precious.  In the Mormon philosophy which I used to prescribe to, this mortal life is thought of as a stepping stone to eternity, that the reason we come here is merely to obtain a body and, for those who weren't the most righteous who die at childbirth,  to gain experience and prove ourselves to be subservient to our God in every way.  What he means by "But they aren't dead." is that they went to the spirit world, a type of waiting place for everyone before the resurrection.  He argued that it was a blessing to them that they could swiftly go there and begin their repentance because their hearts were too hardened and incapable of change in this life already.

Is life so much a burden that we should look forward to the day that it will be swept away?  The greatest thing which I have come to learn since leaving religion behind is that life is infinitely precious because we have only one to live, and as Dr. Stephen Hawking once said, "We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful."

Even if it was a blessing for those, Truman's argument that God is evil still stands.  Truman committed Godwin's law by comparing God to Hitler; we know Hitler to be an evil person because of the genocide of 6 million Jews; God had previously wiped out the entire human race save eight souls, and even after that he continued to commit genocide, ordering Israel to abolish entire nations throughout the Old Testament.  Without including the flood it is at least 2.5 million; after including an estimate for the flood and other slaughters which did not have numbers associated with it, we are now at a total of nearly 25 million.  Here is a good place for a quote from a Tim Minchin song:
I had a cat, she gave birth to a litter 
The kittens were adorable and they made my family laugh 
But as they grew they started misbehavin' 
So I drowned the little fuckers in the bath 
When the creatures in your care start being menaces 
The answers can be found right there in Genesis! 
Chapter 6, Verse 5-7! 
What kind of person would this describe who could be so cruel?

If you are still not convinced, I urge you to purchase this pamphlet and read it.  Other good books to consider can be found at the end of this review.

In conclusion, it is nice to see the perspective of someone who went through the training and has the credentials of a minister.  Richard Dawkins theorizes that there are many that are in situations as ministers where they have devoted their life to the work and don't know what they would do for a job.  There is help out there which can be found at The Clergy Project.  This pamphlet is a bit more polite than The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and may be more palatable to those who may be easily offended by discussing the fallacy of their beliefs.  Thanks go to +Truman Smith for writing this pamphlet and to +Bernie Dehler for sharing it with me.

Recommended Reading:
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

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