By Tim Campbell
“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this, but have expressed it clearly. I do not believe in immortality of the individual and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.” ~Albert Einstein, 1954
For the record, I do not believe in tribal gods or as Einstein put it, personal gods either. This includes Yahweh and Jesus, as well as Zeus, Mithra, Odin, and the Sock Fairy. I do not know what if anything lies beyond the boundaries of our known Universe. If there are entities, beings, or intelligences that do exist beyond our Universe, I am not aware of them, they have not made themselves known to me, and if they do exist, I do not believe that they have any relationship with any of the aforementioned tribal deities. I am not denying the possible existence of beings beyond our known Universe; I am just saying that they are unlikely to be named Yahweh or Jesus or Allah.
I am not writing these essays in order to convert believers to unbelievers. If I can persuade you to think clearly and critically about your own beliefs, that is enough. Perhaps you will do more research and read more (I’ve included a list of books for further reading at the end of this Part One) and learn more about your beliefs, their history, and their very human origins. Perhaps not. There are many who would not even attempt to see anything that might contradict their religious beliefs. They are not open-minded.
That is their problem. I say “their” because I doubt that any of the “true believers” will bother to read this.
For those of you who do take the time to read these essays, welcome! The hope for a just authority that makes everything right in the long run is a universal hope. I do not wish to denigrate that hope, but hope does not make reality. Wishing for a god does not make that god an actuality. Believing in a god does not make that god real.
Unfortunately, religion and faith have no form of bullshit detector. The claimant claims and the believers believe because the claimant has claimed and most likely because the believers want to believe.
I am a human being… nothing more, nothing less. I have no more credibility that Saint Paul, who is credited as being the founder of one of this planet’s major religions: Christianity. But like Saint Paul, I have never physically seen or met the Christ on which he based his religion. Unlike Saint Paul, I do not claim to have met this Christ in visions or dreams. Unlike John, the writer of the Book of Revelations, I do not claim to hear Jesus talking to me from a hole in the roof of my cave, or for that matter from my toaster or television, or bedside lamp.
I have read the Bible. I have seen nothing in that amazing collection of ancient Bronze Age stories, poems, and parables that could convince me that any of the writers of those works had any actual contact with any actual gods either!
If this offends you, then turn away. Read something else and have a good life. Go in peace! If, however, you wish to know why one man claims to be an atheist, then please read on. I welcome your comments and reactions, unless your only rebuttal is to send me to the eternal fires of Hell for daring to disbelieve the veracity of your religion’s claims. In that case, I wish you poxes and disease and demonic sores!
These three Irishmen were sitting around in the pub late one night and the discussion turned to the subject of great inventions.
Tommy stated that the greatest invention of all time had to be the telephone because then he could call home anytime to make sure his dear ma was feeling good.
Mickey said no, the greatest invention had to be the automobile because then he could drive to church on Sundays.
But Paddy said no, the greatest invention was the thermos.
The thermos? the other two said in unison as folks tend to do in these jokes!
Why the thermos, they asked?
Simple says Paddy. It keeps the hot things hot and the cold things cold. How does it know?
No doubt that the thermos represents a wondrous advance in human technology, but if I were sitting with Tommy, Mickey, and Paddy, my vote would have been for the invention of glass!
Glass, you see, is THE amazing invention. Man discovered centuries ago that glass has the ability to be heated and molded into almost any shape, with the result being a TRANSPARENT solid!
I might also add that the properties that make glass glass would stand as one of God’s best jokes on His Earthly rivals, the tribal gods! For if God exists, then God gave glass (or more accurately silica) its wonderful properties.
You see, this transparent moldable solid is the underlying basis for the invention of the microscope and the telescope, not to mention eyeglasses, windows, and protective windshields, and even walls and floors! But it is the microscope and the telescope that have opened up the Universe for us little humans. This has been a stupendous development for humanity as it has shown us more clearly our place in the Universe, but it has meant the inevitable death sentence for the tribal gods.
By tribal gods, I mean specifically, Yahweh, Allah, and Jesus. There are of course hundreds of other tribal gods out there, but most of them (Zeus, Mithra, Issus, Odin, etc.) have already been whacked by these three tribal gods. In some parts of the world, Shiva, Papa Legba, and the Great Spirit are still thought of fondly by a few folks, but not with the enthusiasm and horrible consequences that come along with the Big Three.
Did you know that at one time the earth, our little planet, was thought to be the center of the universe, a huge slightly curved plot of land surrounded above and below by vast reservoirs of water and around which a much smaller ball (the sun) revolved? That this plot of land was made in a single day in a fit of creational genius some 6000 years ago by a tribal god named Yahweh, who subsequently created all living things also in a single day? That the stars were just little points of light, also created by this god in a single day and set into fixed locations around the earth. This was written down sometime between 1500BCE and 1000BCE in a collection of stories that became known as the book of Genesis and became the opening book of the Hebrew histories that Christians call the Old Testament.
More, at one time, people believed that illnesses were caused by demons, or by Sin. In fact, pretty much everything bad—storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, acne, was caused either by Man’s Sin or by God or gods angry at Man’s sins.
Silly, I know. But while the only people who believe these things today are Fundamentalist Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the rest of us would still believe in them if it was not for what we have seen through the lenses of microscopes and telescopes!
Today, we know that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, rotates on an axis every 24 hours and revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit that takes about 365 of those 24 hour periods. The Sun is a star itself that is part of the Milky Way Galaxy which contains about 200 billion other stars. The Milky Way Galaxy is just one galaxy in a Universe of galaxies that is approximately 13.75 billion years old and expanding at an accelerating pace! This knowledge is due to the invention of the telescope
We also know that every living thing on earth that we are aware of shares a common ancestor that lived some 3.5 billion years ago. We know now that germs, bacteria, viruses, and genetic errors cause illnesses and disorders, not Sin or demons. And we know this because we have seen the actual culprits through the lenses of our microscopes.
We (humanity) have used this real knowledge to cure or prevent many of these illnesses and to do things like putting humans onto our Moon and developing cell phones, GPS devices, MRI machines, and a host of other such things!
These facts make the tribal gods and their tribal myths so small as to be insignificant when looking for the reality of the Universe. And more importantly, they hint that the tribal gods are just that: deities made up by and for specific ancient tribes who really had no idea what was the real nature of their world.
But those so-called facts are just theories, the tribal god believers will say. Just theories. And nobody was actually there, so you really can’t know what happened 6000 years ago. And all of the physical laws of the Universe COULD have been different back then. You don’t know!
Well ok. I wasn’t there. Scientists weren’t there. But the animals were there and they left behind their fossils for us to study today. And the stars were there and their light is just reaching us—reaching our telescopes! And the rocks were there, and thanks to our microscopes we can see the tiny tiny animals that lived and died then and became fossilized or preserved in those rocks.
There is also the predictiveness of those theories that have been confirmed by the evidence of consistent results. Cell phones, GPS, MRI, vaccines, spacecraft, atomic and hydrogen bombs, nuclear fueled ships, all are the result of predictions based on those scientific theories that proved to be true. We might not be happy that nuclear weapons were developed, but the fact is that they were developed from predictions based on the same theories that lead us to accurately determine things like the age of the Earth and the Sun and the Universe. Polio and smallpox and measles are no longer the killers today that they were just a couple of generations ago, not because of prayer and devotion to tribal gods, but because we discovered the true nature of these illnesses and developed preventions and cures. And we made those discoveries through the use of microscopes!
So the ancient universe is a fact, the ancient earth is a fact, and the evolution of the living organisms on this planet is a fact as well. Not “just” theories. And that makes Yahweh, his alleged son Jesus, and his Muslim counterpart Allah small fictitious tribal gods.
How so? Could not Yahweh or Allah be the Creator, the Cause of this Universe and the life that exists within it?
Sure. If you accept some absurdities in the face of some basic facts.
Let’s start with the Universe…
I imagine that most of you are familiar with the new LCD and plasma Hi-Definition flat panel televisions? These amazing technologies are based on an array of cells(technically called pixels) in each TV screen. Essentially, each of these cells produces a small portion of the whole picture, like a giant jigsaw puzzle with extremely tiny pieces! You have heard the buzzword “1080p”. This buzzword simply means that the array of cells or pixels in a 1080p television consist of 1,080 rows by 1,920 columns. In other words, your 1080p HD TV screen consists of 2,073,600 individual pixels! For the sake of this analogy, let’s round that off to a straight 2 million pixels in one television screen.
Let’s take just one of those pixels: that one in the bottom right corner. One pixel. Let’s call that the Sun. Our sun, our STAR! The star around which our planet Earth revolves (once every 365 days or so!). That star, btw, is approximately 93 million miles from us. It’s pretty big: 8.6 million miles in diameter and about 109 times bigger than our planet Earth!
But for now, let’s say that the Sun is represented by just one pixel in a single 1080p HD TV. A single pixel being about the size of this letter “o”.
Now, let’s take that little pixel and look at our homne galaxy, the collection of stars that we call the Milky Way. It is estimated that there are some 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, besides our own Sun. So, if we represent our sun as just one pixel in a 1080p TV and we assign one pixel for each of the other stars in our galaxy, then we will need 100,000 1080p televisions to represent all of the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy!
That’s a lot of televisions, but now let’s take the Milky Way Galaxy and represent THAT as single pixel in our 1080p screen. Now, based on our best estimates, the KNOWN Universe consists of more than 100 billion galaxies, with an average of better than 100 billion stars each.
So, with each pixel representing a galaxy, we now need more than 50,000 televisions to represent the galaxies in the entire known Universe! For those of you with a mathematical bent, that means there are more than 10 trillion trillion stars, or 10 followed by 21 zeroes in the known universe!
And just so we don’t imagine that these are all just points of light, they are all stars like our sun. Many of them are the same size, many smaller, and many much much bigger. And in our own neighborhood of stars, we have discovered more than 400 planets circling them! So we are looking at potentially 10 trillion trillion solar systems.
Ok, enough with the big numbers. My point here is that when you read the First book in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Genesis, the “creation” story features a human-like definitively masculine deity who makes the earth BEFORE he makes the sun or stars (generally he PLACES the stars into the sky after he has made the sky and the earth) and He implies that the Earth and its inhabitants are the center and most important of His creations.
This deity then physically appears on the earth and physically makes animals, plants, and humans, often from a combination of earthly dirt and the deity’s own bodily fluids. And then this deity makes one tribe or one person its special friend/messenger.
Later, after wiping out most of his first effort at creating humans amenable to his wishes, He appears only to this tribe and even then only to this tribe’s special people. He gives them specific commands on diet, dress, agriculture, and sexual mores. And He even helps them out when they go into battle against other tribes. He will even stop Time for them(actually he stops the sun from continuing its circuit around the earth, apparently not remembering that He made the earth rotate, and did not make the Sun revolve around the Earth!) so that His “special tribe” has more daylight available to kill more of their enemies. This was so that they would not have to interrupt their slaughter in order to honor the Sabbath, His special Day!
All of this is not according to the histories passed down by rival tribes; these stories are all according to those writing or passing down the Hebrew myths.
Now, seriously, does this sound like a deity that would be responsible for the numbers that I showed in the paragraphs above this? Or does this sound like a small deity invented by a small tribe for their own purposes?
Is there a God?
More accurately, is there a Yahweh, or a Jesus, or an Allah, or a Zeus, or a Mithra, or a Baal?
No. Not a chance. Too obviously created by the human tribes that worshipped them.
If you want to believe that these beings (or any one of them) actually exists or existed, then go ahead. If you can read these essays and STILL believe in these small tribal gods, then that is your right. For the record, I believe that if you believe that the world is only 6000 years old and that the Book of Genesis is an accurate history of the world, then you are unaware of what we as humans have discovered in the past 500 years. Or you are delusional, so caught up in a religious fervor that reality no longer has any hold on you. That may sound cruel, but I see no other alternative for people holding to these anachronistic and tribe-centric beliefs.
Of course, if you believe in these stories, it is because of your “faith”. You believe that you have been granted an amazing ability to believe in the Great Unseen!
Ok, if you have it; I don’t. And quite frankly, I don’t want that kind of faith, that believes blindly without evidence, that accepts as fact tribal stories made up thousands of years ago by a brutal tribe of Middle Eastern nomads! We’ll talk more about that in Part Two!
FOR FURTHER READING:
I do not expect you to read everything that I recommend. I have read these books and many more. I strongly recommend that you do read at least some of these. You can get them cheaply at Amazon.com or borrow them for free from your local library!
THE ANCESTOR’S TALE- Richard Dawkins
WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE- Jerry A. Coyne
EVOLUTION: WHAT THE FOSSILS SAY AND WHY IT MATTERS- Donald Prothero
JOHN ADAMS- David McCullough
CONSTANTINE’S SWORD: THE CHURCH AND THE JEWS- James Carroll
DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT MYTHOLOGY- Kenneth C. Davis
FEAR OF PHYSICS- Lawrence M. Krauss
ATOM- Lawrence M. Krauss
UNSCIENTIFIC AMERICA- Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum
GODLESS- Dan Barker
JESUS INTERRUPTED- Bart Ehrman
DEAD POOL- James Lawrence Powell
ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES- Charles Darwin
HOLY BIBLE (SPECIFICALLY, GENESIS, LEVITICUS, JUDGES, MATTHEW, MARK, JOHN, REVELATIONS)- God
END OF FAITH- Sam Harris
GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH- Richard Dawkins
INTELLIGENT DESIGN CREATIONISM AND ITS CRITICS- Robert T. Pennock
TOWER OF BABEL: THE EVIDENCE AGAINST THE NEW CREATIONISM- Robert T. Pennock
Tim Campbell (the Cleveland Freethinkers)