Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 2

I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
Lesson #1; This Lesson; Lesson #3; Lesson #4

One of those awkward yearbook photos
of the teaching staff. This was during
my many years as Bible teacher of
grades 9-12 at Armona Union
Academy, Armona, California.
#2. The next biggest idea I taught was: "Everything was created by God."

And by the way, I was a self-described hard-core 'young earth creationist' (YEC!), determined to believe that six thousand years is all there was to the history of all life on earth; that is, I took the first ten chapters of the book of Genesis as literally as any fundamentalist Christian, just like most of my academic colleagues in the SDA church, and the rank-and-file members in the pews.

The way I'd teach that now is: Bullshit. (Sorry, but no other word quite captures it). The biggest problem I have with this, besides the mountain-chains-worth of evidence backing the current scientific explanations for Big Bang cosmology, evolutionary biology, and the corresponding lack of any evidence of intelligent design or biblical inspiration (yeah, besides all that, and that pretty much sums it, doesn't it?) is that Christians insist that since something (everything, even) exists, then it must have been created by something else. That's just the illogical, fallacious delusion-warped creationism leaking into their philosophical reasoning. I can certainly conceive of two additional possibilities, neither of which keep me up at night. 

First, everything (i.e., the universe and all its life-making potential chemistry) has simply always existed. There. Why not? Of course, there is no simple answer to the "Why not?" And second, it's possible that we may never know or even be able to know the answer to what if anything got it all started. And, as much as this causes the faithful to cringe, I say to that possibility "Who cares?" Yes, they do, but I ask that to make a point-- Not knowing the answer to that question hasn't stopped any scientific progress yet, has it? So, don't let it bother you.

I'm so ashamed that I once exposed my students to junk science and horribly fallacious sources such as Ben Stein's Expelled movie, and the assertions of the "Intelligent Design" (ID) proponents. The evidence I'll point you to here has been around for just about my entire teaching career, but now the Internet has put it in an immediately accessible form. Don't do as I did back then when I was confronted with evidence conflicting with my YEC/ID views-- don't mentally shut down or fearfully ignore it. If the "truth" loses nothing by a fearless, close inspection (something we all used to tell ourselves back then), then fearlessly test your ideas about creationism.

Start with Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. Follow up with The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, also by Professor Dawkins. As a review and a good answer to Ben Stein and the other ID sources I used to show my Bible classes, the Youtube series called Why Do People Laugh At Creationists? is full of concise, witty presentations of facts in evidence against many popular kinds of YEC/ID propagandists.

The best videos I've found on YouTube for debunking creationist claims:


  1. That's the best anti-creationist video you could find? Certainly there must be material better than that!

    I may hold the position as a believer but I'm very open to hear science based arguments that refute traditional beliefs. Jim I concur with you that organized religion often defends many stupid ideas.... ideas only acceptable for simple, superficial thinkers. However, scorn and ridicule on either side of the argument adds nothing constructive to the logic required to achieve a clearer/deeper understanding of reality. aka the truth.

    Ya, religion has hijacked the word "truth" as well. In religious baffle gab: belief = truth. This a dangerous notion as you have experienced.

  2. If you can find a series of short, fact-filled videos as tightly focused on the worst of modern creationist buffoonery, please suggest them here! But no one should suffer fools, and Thunderf00t doesn't. No one should have to.

    My audience here is my previous Bible students. I thought the videos would grab their attention. Other audiences might prefer other ways of accessing the information, and I provided alternatives throughout the series. Thanks for the comments!