Friday, May 6, 2016
"God's Not Dead" But Is He Nice?
I haven't watched the new "God's Not Dead" movie but the ads for it seems to imply that it is almost certainly a rehash of the same debate over and over again with appeals to emotion for believers and a failure to review some of the most basic principles. Often even the skeptics that don't address them because they're more concerned about proving that "God" Doesn't exist while believers are trying to prove he does exist and is benevolent and merciful.
Neither side seems to consider the possibility that some form of advanced intelligence might exist that people have come to view as "God" who has an ulterior motive, no matter how far fetched it might seem.
The common claim that the existence of "God" can neither be proven or dis-proven may be close but it probably isn't quite right. At a minimum some assumptions about "God" can be confirmed or refuted, possibly narrowing down the nature of this "God," assuming he exists. Even most if not all of the high profile authors leading the "New Atheist movement" admit that they can't completely rule out the possibility that some form of "God" exists, including Victor Stenger, author of "God the Failed Hypothesis."
Stenger probably makes the most detailed argument against the existence of the God that Christians Muslims and Jews believe in, and claims that this "God" can't possibly exist; however he does this by defining the characteristics of their "God" then proves it isn't possible, but allows for the possible existence of another "God" which would need to be defined and exposed to prove that he does or does not exist.
His argument is basically very simple. If there is a God and he is all-knowing, all-powerful Omnipresent and benevolent then he could have prevented an enormous number of the disasters in history, including many of the religious wars supposedly inspired by him. The fact that he hasn't done this proves that either he isn't as powerful as religious people claim or he isn't benevolent.
For someone that isn't trying to prove the existence of a benevolent all powerful God this would probably be adequate to prove that if an advanced intelligence of some sort known as "God" exists then he can't be as good as most people want to believe. And of course there is the common claim by rational skeptics that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
The evidence to prove the existence of "God" might not be adequate; but there is extraordinary evidence proving the existence of a major unsolved mystery that has been around for thousands of years and could possibly be related to the creation of religion and an unknown advanced intelligence, although additional evidence would be required to fill in the details.
As I explained in 107 Wonders of the Ancient World there are numerous ancient wonders that can't be explained and the clearest one is the large number of enormous megaliths, some over 700 tons, that experiments to replicate them with ancient technology didn't come close to succeeding without cheating. Most of these ancient wonders weren't done by Christians, Jews or Muslims; however one exception is the ancient Egyptian obelisks, several of which were relocated by Christians including the 455 ton Lateran Obelisk which was moved by Constantius II in the fourth century and re-erected by Pope Sixtus V. Efforts to replicate this feat didn't come close to succeeding. Experiments with limited technology only succeeded with megaliths up to ten tons; and additional experiments had limited success, although they involved cheating with megaliths up to forty tons, as I explained in previous post about 107 Wonders of the Ancient World.
There are also other possible unsolved mysteries surrounding so called "Mystics" or "Prophets" from more recent history, mostly in the twentieth century, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Michel De Nostradamus, Joseph Smith Jr., Bernadette Soubirous, Gregory Efimovich Rasputin, Edgar Cayce, Lúcia Santos and the incident at Fatima, Edward Leedskalnin, Padre Pio, José Arigó and Uri Geller. None of the mysteries surrounding any of these people or events are as clear cut as the megaliths that can't be moved with ancient technology, however a close look at most if not all might indicate an unsolved mystery of some sort. In most if not all cases the believers seem to jump to conclusions that won't stand up to scrutiny; and the skeptics also make obvious blunders when they try to dismiss aspects that aren't so easy to explain. This probably means that most if not all of these mysteries haven't been fully explained and an open mind for other possibilities might be appropriate.
If there is something to some of these stories then they indicate a possibility that some unknown advanced intelligence might be able to influence some people in mysterious ways the way "God" allegedly did in biblical times. Skeptics would be right not to rule this in without further evidence but they shouldn't rule it out either.
Without an explanation for these unsolved mystery, and others which and more which would take more time to go into, it is hard to see how the existence of an unknown advanced intelligence that might have been what people know as "God," can't possibly exist, although many of the assumptions about this "God" can be easily ruled out, assuming people think about it rationally. However even though many pseudo-skeptics aren't going to admit this; and many faithful people are still going to keep their faith in a "Good God," the evidence may not support either side. Further consideration of the "God" religious people choose to believe in, based on the Bible, may be worthwhile, even if the evidence proving the accuracy of the bible isn't as strong as the hard evidence provided by ancient wonders, since even if it isn't true religious people choose to believe it.
Ironically if you consider the hypothetical Biblical version of "God" it doesn't portray him as being merciful at all, although there are passages where he says he is merciful; but he doesn't demonstrate it with his alleged actions.
In Catholic Bible Exodus 14:4 it says, "I shall then make Pharaoh stubborn and he will set out in pursuit of them; and I shall win glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and his whole army, and then the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.' And the Israelites did this" Other translations Bible Exodus 14:4 This is how "God" justifies the atrocities he allegedly commits against the Egyptians to convince them to let his people go. If he was as merciful as religious people and some Bible verses often claim then he could simply not "make Pharaoh stubborn" and convince him to let his people go without all these alleged miracles.
Instead he commits obvious entrapment and threatens to retaliate against anyone who doesn't blindly believe what they're told to believe. The entire book is full of threats to those that don't obey authority. Instead of teaching people how to get along with others the Bible describes one war after another often because the enemy isn't worshiping "God" in a manner that pleases "God."
And it routinely describes times where those that he previously blessed are being punished with atrocious events for not being devout enough while worshiping "God." Many people allegedly don't fully understand why they're being punished and often believe they're supposed to worship one "God" or another with their actions.
They do have some morals in it; however they're very selectively applied and more concerned with obedience to authority than respecting the rights of others. The first three or four commandments are about worshiping God and the fifth is about obeying parents as an authority figure. Then they get to the ones about respecting the right of others; but when it comes to outsiders or those who "God" disapproves of violating these commandments is not only not required but recommended in the Bible. It's full of orders to kill people for a variety of reasons, often what rational people would consider trivial, like working on the Sabbath, or they often recommend deception like when Jacob deceived Issac to get his blessing and "God" approved.
The commandment not to create "Graven Idols" to worship always seemed reasonable to me because worshiping hype often leads to a distorted thought process that distracts from rational thinking; however the Bible doesn't explain it that way and almost immediately after that God orders them to create and elaborate Ark which they worship; later on it describes how Solomon created a temple for "God" with huge megaliths, that sounds like the Temple Mount, although historians don't consider this conclusive, which has at least one megalith over five hundred tones. This is often part of their worship of "God" which serves no practical purpose for the people and does nothing to improve their quality of life.
Throughout the Bible they encounter at least three or four other cultures that worship unapproved "Gods" that also created massive monuments that experiments weren't able to replicate. They include the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Romans, and probably the people who created the temple at Baalbek, assuming they're worshipers of Baal, which has three megaliths over seven hundred tons and a dozen or more over two hundred tons. This site also has megalithic columns with drums that weigh sixty tons and architraves that weigh a hundred tons, although historians believe this was probably done by the Romans hundreds of years after the foundation was built.
These megalithic monuments were almost certainly built more for their ability to encourage cult worship and control their people than to provide any practical benefit. They seem spectacular but take so much effort that they contributed to the decline and fall of many civilizations that considered them more important than basic functions that do benefit society.
Evidence of cult worship continues in the New testament of the Bible where in Matthew 10; 34-7 (Additional translations) Jesus says "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set son against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law; a person's enemies will be the members of his own household. No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me. No one who prefers son or daughter to me is worthy of me." and in Luke: 14;26 which says, "Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, cannot be my disciple."
These are tactics that you might expect from fringe cult leaders like Jim Jones, Charles Manson or David Koresh that use coercion to control their followers and often lead them to bring about their own destruction. Many people may not realize it but they have their roots in the Bible which mainstream religions worship. Beliefs like 9/11 was retaliation from "God" for tolerating gay people also have their roots in the Bible which has verses about curses that involve arbitrary punishment after the fact when people won't even know what they're being punished for or why, assuming the Bible is the literal truth.
Verses like this might raise doubts about whether or not most Christians actually read their own Bible. Many of them almost certainly don't. Before I read it I mentioned a couple portions of it that I heard of indirectly including the story of David and Goliath and the one about the Good Samaritan to someone that was much more religious than me and claimed to know the Bible well. He expressed outrage saying the story of David and Goliath wasn't from the Bible and the Jewish people didn't look down on Samaritans at that time. I didn't argue since he had read it and I didn't but later confirmed that I was right.
Throughout most of Christian history most people weren't even supposed to read the Bible. Priest were supposed to read what they saw fit to the people and they read it in Latin which many people didn't even understand. This didn't change until the Protestant divide when people like Martin Luther and other reformers said it should be read by everyone. Since then a lot of people really did read the Bible, although most may not fully understand it. But they seem to go about it with the assumption that it is divine therefore they must always find a way to justify everything which leads to enormous contradictory justifications which constantly change.
The Bible also has an enormous number of verses that treat women like property and justifies atrocities against them including when a father in Sodom offered to let the mob rape and abuse his daughter as long as he left angels from God alone and a similar incident in the book of Judges among many other sexist verses. It is hard to imagine why someone like Grace Wesley would welcome his judgement. It is also hard to imagine why anyone who understood the Bible where he entraps the Egyptians and intentionally incites many other wars could possibly believe this "God" was trustworthy enough and qualified to pass moral judgement.
However, in all fairness it is worth considering the possibility that this isn't the literal word of "God" or an accurate portrayal of history, which it almost certainly isn't. Many religious people don't believe in Biblical literalism but still believe in a benevolent "God," that may have inspired their religion.
If this is true then why didn't this benevolent "God" maintain an open line of communication and inform the people that the message delivered by religious leaders, that often led to wars and propped up the authority of tyrants, was never what he intended at all?
If he was as benevolent and merciful as religious people claim this is the least that he could have and would have done.
If religious people can avoid addressing this question it is much easier to maintain their belief; if not they will almost certainly come up with irrational justifications for their God and might even respond in anger scaring many people into avoiding the discussion. This can be interpreted as winning the argument even though they never address the obvious problems.
Some philosophers might consider whether God or some other advanced intelligence might really be moral, as religious people believe or either immoral or amoral. The difference may be trivial to many. Moral means respecting the rights of others; immoral means having no respect for the rights of others; amoral means having no concern about morality at all. Nature or weather might be fairly considered amoral under this definition since it has no intention to either harm or help people and no consciousness; however if there is an advanced intelligence known as "God" that influenced the creation of religions and the creation of monuments from ancient civilizations that wouldn't have been possible otherwise this advanced intelligence does seem to have an agenda and billions of people have been paying the price for what ever that objective has been for thousands of years.
If many religious people come to the conclusion that there really is a "God" but he might not be so merciful as they previously chose to believe the most likely assumption for many of them might go to the opposite extreme, that "God" commits atrocities for amusement or evil purposes. Technically it might not be so easy to rule this out since it may seem to fit the facts but this is almost certainly another emotional assumption. If there is an advanced intelligence known as "God" he is probably accomplishing his goal, what ever that might be, in the most effective way he knows how, regardless of how much damage he does to people and animals.
In addition to experiments that prove that it should be impossible to move massive megaliths with ancient technology; it might be highly unlikely that ancient leaders would have understood advanced psychology that enables them to control large numbers of people, either for the construction of structures that provide them no benefits or to fight one war after another.
If our history, including the creation of megalithic monuments that shouldn't be possible based on experiments to replicate them, and the beliefs allegedly inspired by "God" are his way of accomplishing his goal what could that goal possibly be? How could this possibly help him accomplish it?
How can we avoid obvious denial from both skeptics and believers about many of the major flaws they routinely ignore?
The closest relatively high profile attempt to explain all these unsolved mysteries, without falling into these two categories of skeptics that rule out or virtually rule out a God or believers that insist on a God that is worthy of worship, that I know of is the Ancient Alien theorist that have been on several science and history channels including the series by that name on the History Channel. However they make their own share of blunders, often so obvious that it is hard to imagine how they could possibly miss them.
In my previous UFO Hypothesis with rational use of Occam's Razor I indicated that if there has been some evidence of UFO activity or their past involvement in our history they may have released reliable information though unreliable sources and unreliable information though sources that seemed reliable. There seems to be a lot of evidence to support this possibility, although it takes a lot of time reviewing different sources to recognize it. This theory, as described further in the previous post, indicates that if there is a UFO presence of some sort that arrived thousands of years ago they probably rely on artificial intelligence and travel that takes hundreds if not thousands of years.
If that is the case then they probably can't commute, as most science fiction films imply they can. What would they accomplish so far from their own planet?
One possible consideration might be that they might conduct large research projects that they would never allow on their own planet. This could include research into manipulation of DNA, although they might be inclined to do a lot of that on their own planet, but if their environment is different it would be a different kind of research; or research on Climate Change, which they almost certainly wouldn't intentionally do on their own planet if they understood it. However they could conceivably gone through similar problems with Climate Change on their own planet and done some research without initially intending to, which is what is now presumably going on now with the research on Climate Change. However if we were responding to it in a rational manner the establishment would have already taken much more drastic measures to reverse it, assuming they were rational. If they're trying to allow it to continue, at least long enough to serve the purposes of a specific experiment then they might might need an excuse to avoid addressing the problem.
The current establishment is acting in an insane manner that is destroying the planet with little or no sincere attempt to reverse it. This seems to be because of ideological fanaticism, and for many people it almost certainly is; however there should be many more well educated people doing a much better job trying to raise the alarm. However instead the entire political and media establishment is trying to convince the public to go along with and ideology about expanding the economy with no limit. this is obviously flawed; and unless the most powerful politicians are suicidal they should be taking this much more seriously instead of just pretending either that it isn't a problem at all or they can get by with minor changes.
This sounds insane.
It is insane.
However even if this hypothesis isn't true there are an enormous amount of things happening that are just as insane like the media and political establishment providing the coverage that enables Donald Trump to get the Republican nomination and trying to rig it so that Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic nomination and we have no choice but to go for lesser of two evils who won't try to do much if anything or go for a seemingly impossible option with either Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein, since the media refuses to cover the majority of rational candidates for any given office.
The political establishment has demonstrated that they know how to do a much better job manipulating the public without driving them to absurd extremes; yet they're doing it anyway. The current political campaign is as absurd and insane as any fringe conspiracy theory.
A conspiracy theory that explains this would have to be huge!
This one is. However it would be foolish to pursue a course of action that would only work if it were true. A political reform movement that brings in better education reverses economic inequality and reverses the enormous amount of environmental destruction would be rational whether this is true or not.
What our current political leadership is doing is insane whether this hypothesis is true or not.
Also whether this far-fetched hypothesis is true or not we're pursuing an insane course of action with the agenda set by the political establishment based on hard facts that aren't so speculative; but those in power don't seem willing to acknowledge it.
Also, if we described the rapid development of genetically modified organisms possible manipulation of DNA, advanced computer technology and weapons technology to skeptics decades ago they would have considered it science fiction or fringe conspiracy theories. However it is now science fact. Could we really develop all this technology this fast without reverse engineering from alien technology or perhaps a direct line of communication?
If Philip Corso did share some form of alien technology with corporations, as I mentioned in UFO Hypothesis with rational use of Occam's Razor then it would mean that the GMO research being done by Monsanto would be with the help of knowledge they received directly or indirectly from aliens. It would also mean that advanced weapons and aircraft technology being developed may also be with the help of alien technology. Whether this technology was developed with alien technology or not it is being used to maintain a permanent state of war very much like the wars fought for religious reasons for thousands of years.
This seems farfetched and reasonable skepticism is advisable; however if current explanations either by religious people that portray the Biblical version of "God" as benevolent continue ignoring the atrocities he allegedly commits in the Bible and the negligence he commits by refusing to advise against religious war; and the skeptics continue to pretend unsolved mysteries like how the ancient megaliths were moved and other mysteries mentioned either in this article or elsewhere don't exist; then it would be appropriate to consider different theories that do address the flaws in existing beliefs including this one.
Whether you consider this hypothesis rational or not it is hard to believe that a "God" that allegedly says (Exodus 31:14) "You will keep the Sabbath, then; you will regard it as holy. Anyone who profanes it will be put to death; anyone who does any work on that day will be outlawed from his people," should be considered a reliable source of morality.