Yes it should scare them!

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Astrophysics Should Threaten Fundies More Than Biology

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, March 13, 2014 15:57 EDT
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You can click the link to see the original clip. If this was intentional and not a mistake, so many questions arise, starting with, “Well, how will they deal with the next episode?” You know, the one he was talking about that’s coming up next, where the history of human evolution promises to be dealt with at length? Or why was this particular 15 seconds more offensive to fundamentalist sensibilities than the entire segment leading up to it, which is about the age of the universe, which is just as lethal a scientific theory to the biblical understanding of humanity as the theory of evolution is.

 

Not that this contradiction suggests anything, really, about whether this was an accident or deliberate. One of the things I find most peculiar about the creationist movement is they focus so much on attacking biologists when, if you really think about it, astrophysics has come up with ideas that are far more destabilizing to religious ideas about where we come from and what the relationship between humanity and God is like. In fact, one of the biggest segments of the show, the story of Giordano Bruno, was about precisely that: The Spanish Inquisition was deeply threatened by his idea that the stars are other suns with other planets and that the universe is vast and perhaps infinite, as well they should have been. They correctly surmised that it is pretty hard to believe in a special purpose for human beings in a universe that big, when we’re so small in it. It just doesn’t make sense. Why would God created billions of stars and give each of them their own solar system of planets, all for the purpose of making a bunch of hairless primates with large brains on one single solitary planet worship him?

When you think about it that way, evolution is much easier to reconcile to religion. It makes somewhat more sense that God would have humans evolve out of other creatures on this single planet than he would make billions of stars and planets—and perhaps even other universes—for no reason at all. At least evolution could be reframed as purposeful in some sense. Our relative smallness compared to the universe, however, is impossible to reconcile.

And yet creationists have latched onto evolution. There are some attempts to challenge astrophysics and geology, which also uphold the theory of a very old Earth and very old universe, but most of the efforts are focused on evolution. Charles Darwin is a villain in fundamentalist circles, but the scientists who helped develop these other theories are mostly ignored. (Hey, I don’t know their names, either!) Even the Discovery Institute’s newsletter is called Evolution News and Views.

Interestingly, they lambasted Cosmos for the Bruno segment, and it showed the disjointed, illogical thinking that characterizes the fundamentalist approach to science. They don’t want to be seen as anti-science, but they still found the segment offensive, understanding, correctly, that it was there to highlight the dangers attendant when religion tries to stifle scientific ideas that may threaten its dogma. The correct reaction to this provocation, of course, would have been to pretend that it has nothing to do with them. After all, their “official” stance is that they question the science of evolution, and therefore they should be equally outraged as any other viewer that this man was persecuted and martyred for floating a theory—that the universe is huge—that they themselves do not dispute.  Instead, they threw a fit and tossed out a pointless red herring, whining that it was unfair to use Bruno’s story because he was burned for religious heresy and not because he was a scientist. But that’s something deGrasse Tyson points out in the show. The official designation of Bruno isn’t the issue—the fact that he was punished for asking hard questions the church found threatening is. If they were smart, the Discovery Institute would applaud Cosmos for telling this story, reiterate how much they value the importance of asking hard questions (even if those questions trouble religion), and reiterate their obviously false claim that their criticisms of evolutionary theory are scientific in nature and not the result of dogmatists refusing to accept science. That they couldn’t do that and instead chose to quibble is very telling.

But that really shows how small-minded, even on their own terms, creationists are. They can’t conceive of doing anything more than creating a little sideshow or floating a few, narrow criticisms and hoping you don’t notice that they can’t even handle the overwhelming amount of scientific information pouring in from all sorts of fields that shows their religious beliefs simply can’t be true.

 
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
 
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.

 

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02:17 PM ET
 

Why are millennials leaving church? Try atheism

By Hemant Mehta, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Articles and books about why millennials are leaving Christianity often focus on what churches are doing “wrong.”

They’re anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-sex-education and anti-doubt, 
to name a few of the most common criticisms.

I don’t disagree with those critiques, but there’s another side to the story.

While Christians have played sloppy defense, secular Americans have been showing off some impressive offense, giving young Christians plenty of reasons to lose faith in organized religion.

For instance, atheists dominate the Internet, rallying to thriving websites and online communities in lieu of physical meeting spaces.

Even a writer for the evangelical magazine Relevant admitted that “While Christianity enjoys a robust online presence, the edge still seems to belong to its unbelievers.”

Atheists outnumber Christians on popular discussion forums like Reddit, where subscribers to the atheism section number more than 2 million. The Christianity section is not even 5% of that.

The Internet-based Foundation Beyond Belief, which encourages atheists to donate to charitable organizations, just celebrated raising $1 million for worthwhile causes. (Disclosure: I serve on its board of directors.)

Moreover, blogs and websites espousing non-religious viewpoints and criticizing Christianity draw tons of Internet traffic these days. For every Christian apologist’s argument, it seems, there’s an equal and opposite rebuttal to be found online. I call that “Hitchens’ Third Law.”

READ MORE: Why millennials are leaving the church 

Christians can no longer hide in a bubble, sheltered from opposing perspectives, and church leaders can’t protect young people from finding information that contradicts traditional beliefs.

If there’s an open comment thread to be found on a Christian’s YouTube video or opinion piece online, there’s inevitably going to be pushback from atheists.

There has also been a push by atheists to get non-religious individuals to “come out of the closet” and let people know that they don’t believe in God.

Among other things, this proves that anti-atheist stereotypes aren’t accurate and, just as important, that atheists aren’t alone in their communities.

There’s the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s Out Campaign, with its Scarlet A badges.

There are atheist-encouraging billboards in 33 states financed by groups like theUnited Coalition of Reason.

There’s even going to be an 1-800 hot line for people “recovering” from religion.

READ MORE: Atheists to start 1-800 hot line for doubters

And last year, an estimated 20,000 atheists turned out for the Reason Rally in Washington, a tenfold increase from the previous atheist rally in 2002.

But more than anything else, atheism’s best advertisements may be the words of Christian leaders themselves.

When Pastor Mark Driscoll belittles women, Rick Warren argues against same-sex rights or Rob Bell equivocates on the concept of hell, we amplify those messages for them – and it helps us make our point.

(It goes without saying that the pairing of Pat Robertson and YouTube has been great for atheists.)

Pastors are no longer the final authority on the truth, and millennials know it.

Even if they hold Jesus’ message in high esteem, the Bible as it has traditionally been preached by many evangelical pastors is becoming less and less attractive to them.

A 2012 study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PDF) showed that many Christians aged 18-24 felt that Christianity was hypocritical (49%), judgmental (54%) and anti-gay (58%).

In addition, Christianity Today reported last year that fewer than half of born-again Christians under 35 opposed same-sex marriage.

When millennials’ pastors and hearts are going in different directions, church leaders should be worried.

Can churches win back the youth?

Barring a complete shift in beliefs, that may not be possible. Some of the proposed solutions seem ludicrous to millennial atheists like myself.

For instance, there’s been talk of finding a better way to reconcile science and religion. Whenever that battle takes place, religion loses.

There are some questions we may never know the answer to, but for the ones we can eventually answer, the scientific explanation will devour the religious one. Mixing science and religion requires a distortion of one or the other.

READ MORE: Behold, the six tribes of atheism 

What about focusing on the message and life of Jesus?

While this sounds good philosophically, the myth surrounding Jesus is part of the problem with Christianity.

To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles.

There’s no proof of any of that ever happened, and atheists place those stories in the same box as “young Earth creationism” and Noah’s Great Flood.

To be sure, if Christians followed the positive ideas Jesus had, we’d all be better off, but it’s very hard to separate the myth from the reality.

In short, there are many reasons the percentage of millennials who say they’ve never doubted God’s existence is at a record low, and nearly a quarter of adults under 30 no longer affiliate with a faith.

The church has pushed young people away, yes, but there are also forces actively pulling them in the other direction.

It appears that atheists and Christians are finally working together on the same task: getting millennials to leave the church.

Hemant Mehta blogs at The Friendly Atheist. The views expressed in this column belong to Mehta. 

 
 

 – CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Culture & Science • Faith • Faith Now • Internet • Nones • Opinion • Science • United States

My sentiments are reflected perfectly above in this expert piece of writing by Mr. Mehta. I believe that the young people of this nation are being exposed to too many facts to be snowed by myth. The information age has helped atheism in exponential ways by showing people that facts explain their world while myths float on the wind as intangible stories. We, as a people, do not support the fanaticism that is present in places like the Middle East so religious psychos are few, but in Iraq or Afghanistan you can find them on any chosen street corner. Take the myth out of raising children and you advance the reasonable thinking of the human race. Yes, the U.S has it’s problems, but that cannot change without trial and error. Sheeple exist in vast numbers and must be led to do the right thing by reason and not myth.

Read this and take the message to heart! The facts are speaking in great numbers right the fuck now!! Wake up myth masters, the reason that you are losing followers is…wait for it….REASON! Most Christians don’t believe in God anyway, they are just too scared to admit it. Jesus could appear in front of a Christian today and if he couldn’t do anything supernatural then he would be dismissed as a fraud. MOST Christians require proof but live their lives in the flimsy lie of belief. It’s comfortable to identify with what you’ve been indoctrinated to and easy to carry the mantle of the believer. Once the mantle is thrown off though, you have to surrender to logic, fact and reason. There IS no cosmic sky daddy watching over you and protecting you, ( while magically letting your neighbor’s kid die of cancer ), and this life is the only one you have so you have to make the best of it now! Heavy shit, I know! I went thru this at 12 and it weighed heavily on my ‘soul.’ Everything that I had been taught was bullshit designed to separate me from personal responsibility and reasonable thought! When I accepted the truth, I began to do things that positively effected my life because I knew that I could not count on the sky fairy for ANYTHING! The amazing specter could not so much as move a fucking penny let alone turn water into wine! All of that was unwitnessed fairy tale bullshit sold to uneducated masses in need of a collective pacifier. When it was shoved into their mouths they shut the fuck up and stopped crying about their pitiful lives because now they were given purpose instead of being dismissed as idiots.

Today in America and other industrialized nations, the poor can make a better life. In the past it wasn’t that easy. Now God is becoming obsolete because other things are giving people importance besides imaginary beings. I will conclude with this. Be proud to be an individual and fill your life with knowledge and reason. Peace out y’all!