Monday, April 26, 2010

I Don't Believe in Atheists - Two


The Folly of Relying on Science to Disprove, or to Prove, the Existence of God


Many atheists claim that there is not scientific evidence of the existence of God, that man’s comprehension of the vastness of the universe has made him capable of discounting the existence of an entity beyond his comprehension.


To bolster this position of non-belief, some even present as evidence the claim that scientists do not believe in God, that the most intelligent of men are non-believers. This assertion can be proven false by “scientific” observation. A quick search of the internet produced a sea of empirical evidence to refute the claim. One Google link led to a list of “12 famous scientists who believed in God”: Nicolas Copernicus (a Catholic Priest who uncovered the model of the world envisioned by the pre-Aristotelian Greeks), Sir Francis Bacon (often credited with developing the “Scientific Method”), Johannes Kepler (who discovered the Laws of Planetary Motion), Galileo Galilei (who presented empirical evidence of the Heliocentric world Copernicus had rediscovered), Rene Descartes (the father of modern philosophy), Isaac Newton (whose observations on gravity and mathematics stood until Einstein), Robert Boyle (who explained matter), Michael Faraday (who explained electricity and magnetism), Gregor Mendel (a monk who laid the foundation for the science of genetics), William Thomson Kelvin (who explained heat), Max Planck (whose quantum theory challenged man’s concepts of physics), and Albert Einstein (who gave us theories of time, gravity, energy, and matter that challenged Newton’s truths). Another list also caught my attention, 50 Nobel Laureates and Other Great Scientists Who Believed in God. I went down the list looking for any still alive and was pleased to find Arno Penzias who received the Physics Prize in 1978. His research into Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation supports the Big Bang. Sharking up lists of scientists who believe in God does not prove His existence, but it does prove that those who claim scientists don’t or cannot believe in God are wrong. My favorite quote in this vein comes from Charles Darwin: “To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator. . .” (The Origin of Species, pg 242)


It is amusing to listen to the waffling of the many who seek to find in science evidence against the existence of God. Michael Ende’s The Never Ending Story, parodies the idea that every book ever written can be produced by random accident. By this logic, one could take all the individual letters in the Iliad, throw them up in the air, and have them land in a perfect text of Homer’s masterpiece. Scientific atheists would make the same claim for the chemicals in human DNA. They seem to miss the contradiction in asserting that random chance can produce anything while denying the existence of something called God.


A final ploy of those who would employ science to assert atheism is concocting definitions of God that they then insist God must meet in order to exist. Admittedly, atheists are aided in this by the assertions of many believers. No supernatural beings appear to live on Mount Olympus; Jehovah is not in the whirlwind. Disproving myths simply reveals their failure to explain the truth. It is equally irrelevant to point out atrocities done by men in the name of God. Mohammad’s murders may expose his fraudulence, but they do not impeach God.


Science examines a small domain within the universe of knowledge, demonstrable and empirically comprehensible truths from only a sliver of what we “know”. Scientific theory is, by definition, in flux. Einstein tells us that, “No fairer destiny could be allotted to any physical theory, than that it could of itself point out the way to the introduction of a more comprehensive theory, in which it lives on as a limiting cause.” (Relativity, pg 86) Yet atheists, who pretend to some mastery of science, are erroneously willing to insist that using the present incarnation of Science, they can comprehend the sum total of truth. Like the prisoners in Plato’s Cave, they insist that the shadows they see are the universe as it is; that their transitory and concocted explanations are the immutable truths.


Science illuminates only a small part of what must be discerned for man to come to the knowledge of anything. It is quite unlikely that we are using all our reasoning capabilities. Consider: mathematics before the principals of calculus were revealed, man’s ignorance of the solar system before the first telescope, the value of radio waves before the first receiver, the death that stalked the earth before we found the germs. Good scientists should be more skeptical about good science.


Most of what there is to know in the world is not manifested in a way that can be measured by the senses. It is foolish to claim that all beyond one’s physical comprehension is non-existent. Just because 21st century science cannot grasp some being's existance does not mean He dose not exist. It is folly to discount so many truths which are self-evident because they are not physically demonstrable.


In summary: a student report from the Chronicles of Narnia in my Great Books class gave some points to ponder from an atheist turned believer, C. S. Lewis.


“Oh, Adam’s sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good!” Aslan from (The Magician’s Nephew)


“‘You see,’ said Aslan, ‘they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.’” (The Last Battle, pg 148)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Don’t Believe in Atheists – One

God Is Not

Some who claim there is no God argue against religions, superstitions, or human constructs and then assert that, since they have proven some point about their “straw man” of choice, they have disproved God.

God is not a book.

The Iliad, the Torah, the Bible, The Book of Mormon, and the Qur’an are all man made. The Book of Mormon admits this up front – on its title page. Quote, “And now, if there are faults, they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.” Close quote

The error of equating God with stories about him is illustrated in a PBS film, God on Trial. The premise of the film, which I understand is based on Elie Wiesel’s play The Trial of God, is a group of Jews, awaiting death in Auschwitz, who put God on Trial. The charge is that God, called the Lord, Adoni, has broken His covenant with the Jews. I have transcribed the dialogue from the final inquisition into God’s behavior through the questions asked by Zamkevitz, a mystical rabbi, to a young scholar, Idek.

Zamkevitz: “Who led the Children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Idek: “God.”

Zamkevitz: “Why were they in Egypt?

Idek: “The famine.”

Zamkevitz: “Who sent the famine?”

Idek: “God?”

Zamkevitz: “So God sent the Children of Israel to Egypt and God took them out of Egypt.”

“How did God bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Idek: “Moses asked Pharaoh.”

Zamkevitz: “And when Pharaoh said no?”

Idek: “The plague.”

Zamkevitz: “First Moses turned the Egyptian's water to blood, then God sent a plague of frogs, next mosquitoes, then flies, then He slew their live stock, next a plague of boils. Next, came hail that battered down the crops, trees, and structures everywhere.”

Idek: “Except Goshen, where the Israelites lived.”

Zamkevitz: “And then a plague of locust and then the days of darkness, and finally what?

Idek: “God slew the first born of Egypt.”

Zamkevitz: “He struck down the first born, from the first born of Pharaoh to the first born of the slave at the mill. He slew them all.”

“Did He slay Pharaoh?”

Idek: “No.”

Zamkevitz: “It was Pharaoh that said no, but God let him live and slew his children instead; all the children.”

“And then the Children of Israel made their escape taking with them the gold and silver and jewels and garments of the Egyptians. And then God drowned the soldiers who pursued them. He did not close the waters up so the soldiers could not follow; He waited till they were following, then He closed the waters.”

“Then what?”

Idek: “Well, the desert and then the Promised Land.”

Zamkevitz: “Now, the Promised Land, was it empty?”

“‘As Israel, when you come into the land you shall cast out many nations, nations much greater and mightier than you are. You shall smite them and utterly destroy them, and you shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them.’ ”

“And He gave them a king in Saul. Now, when the people of Amalek met Saul’s people what did the Lord God command?”

Idek: “Crush Amalek, put him under the curse.”

Zamkevitz: “Was Saul to show mercy, to spare anyone?”

“Do not spare him but kill, kill man and woman, babe and suckling, ox, sheep, camels, and donkeys. So Saul set out to do this, and on the way he met the Canaanites (merchants). They were not Amalek’s people; he had no quarrel with them. He told them to flee.”

“And the Lord our God, was He pleased by the mercy of Saul, by the justice of Saul?”

Idek: “No, He wasn’t.”

Zamkevitz: “And when Saul decided not to destroy all the livestock, but to take them to feed his people, was God pleased by his prudence, his charity?”

Idek: “No, no He was not.”

Zamkevitz: “He said, 'you have rejected the word of Adoni, therefore He has rejected you as king.'”

“So, seeking to please the Lord our God, Samuel brought forth King Agag and hacked him to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal.”

“After Saul there came David; who took Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite by arranging to have Uriah killed. – Against the wishes of God.”

“Did God strike David for this? Did He strike Bathsheba? Adoni said that since you have sinned against me, the child will die.”

“You asked earlier, ‘Who punishes a child?’ God does.”

“Did the child die suddenly, mercifully, without pain? Seven days, seven days, that child spent suffering and died in pain; while David wrapped himself in sack and ashes and sought to show his sorrow to God. Did God listen?”

Idek: “The child died.”

Zamkevitz: “Did that child find that God was just?”

“Did the Amalekites find that God was just? Did the mothers of Egypt, the mothers, did they think that Adoni was just?”

Idek: “He was our God.”

Zamkevitz: “What, did God not make the Egyptians, their rivers, and make their crops grow? If not Him then who? Some other God?”

“And what did He make them for; to punish them, to starve, to frighten, to slaughter them?”

“The people of Amalek, the people of Egypt – what was it like for them, when Adoni turned against them? It was like this.” [He gestures to the death camp barracks.] Today there was a selection. When David defeated the Moabites, what did he do?”

Idek: “He made them lie on the ground in lines, and he chose one to live and two to die.”

Zamkevitz: “We are to become the Moabites. We are learning how it was for the Amalekites. They faced extinction at the hand of Adoni, they died at His purpose. They fell as we fall, they were afraid as we are afraid. And what did they learn? They learned that the Lord our God, our God is not good, is not good, He was not ever good. He was only on our side. God is not good! In the beginning, when He repented that He had made human beings and drowned them, why? What had they done to deserve annihilation? What could they have done to deserve such wholesale slaughter? What could they have done? God is not good. When He asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham should have said no. He should have taught our God the justice that was in our hearts. We should have stood up to Him. He is not good. He has simply been strong and on our side. Who is to say God is not with the Nazis?”

Before the Judges can render their verdict, the Nazis come and march half the inmates to the gas chamber. The audience is left to judge.

This “trial of God” is typical of the attacks on God by some who claim to be atheists. The reasonable response to the foolishness attributed to Adoni is that the Torah was written to justify the actions of the Israelites and excuse their crimes. A reasonable answer to such a charge is that these unreasonable parts of the text have nothing to do with God. God is not unjust, and any scriptures that claim otherwise have nothing to do with God; and cannot prove anything about Him. One may as well talk about the chariot of the sun, the palaces on Mt. Olympus, the Spanish Inquisition, the mass human sacrifices of pre-Colombian Mesoamerica, or the terror bombers of 9/11. To justify evil in God's name is to lie, it does not indict God.

Reason explains the atrocities committed in the name of God to this day. Logic easily dispels all such similar attacks against His existence. This is so absolute a Law that it, in fact, reveals which religions can pretend to any claim to truth at all.

God is not unreasonable.

In his lecture, Faith, Reason and the University, given on September 12th 2006, Pope Benedict XVI also discusses this point. He quotes “. . . the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. . . . The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man . . . the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. . . he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”. . . “God”, he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably . . . is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats. . . To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death. . .”

The Pope goes on to explain that, “The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion [I would argue against injustice of any kind in the name of God.] is that: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to Gods’ nature.” He sums up the emperor Manuel II’s arguments with this powerful quote: “Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God. . ."

God is not a religion.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The N.E.P.

Always Hungry or Forever Fat

I’m always hungry. It’s by choice; a necessary discomfort I endure to get something I want more than feeling full.

Some years ago, at my annual Boy Scout physical, my doctor got me thinking. As we talked about the joys of grandchildren, he asked how my parents had died. Both died from heart disease. He told me I needed to get my weight and cholesterol down if I wanted to enjoy my grandchildren for long. “It would be sad,” he added, “to lose all that learning.” His warning still echoes in my mind.

Some days later, I took a look at my chubby reflection in the mirror. I had avoided looking in the mirror for a long time. I wore baggy clothes, sweaters, and suspenders, so I wouldn’t have to think about my tummy. I never posed for photographs. Rather discouraged, I got on the new digital scale in our bathroom. I weighed over a ton; the scale read 2030. Frantic, I burst out of the bathroom crying, “I weigh two thousand and thirty pounds.” My daughter comforted me, and pointed out that there was a decimal point in there. In fact I weighed 203.0 lbs., still a wake up call.

It was then I invented the N.E.P. (New Eating Program). We were studying Lenin in World History, and the New Economic Program was in my head. It took me one and a half years to reach a target weight (TW). I have weighed 130 lbs for a year and a half (my preferred weight (PW) is 128 lbs.) and I have decided that the N.E.P. really does work. Here it is:

1. Eat only three meals a day and take only ONE reasonable portion of food at each. Never eat until full; always stop still wanting more.
2. Never eat desserts.
3. Never eat snacks: no ice cream, no candy, no cookies, no donuts, no sugared pop, no fruit juice – nothing eaten solely to please the taste buds.
4. Take nutritional supplements. I take the following: a daily multi-vitamin, (Centrum Silver – I am an old man), a vitamin E capsule, 4000 milligrams of fish oil (four pills a day), one baby aspirin, 10 mg of Crestor, and 500 mg of Niaspan Er. (These prescription medications were prescribed by my doctor). I also take one red wine extract gell-cap (Resveratra) every day, and for my brain, I eat 22.5 grams of Ghirardelli’s intense dark 86% Cacao chocolate every Thursday at lunch.
5. Do moderate exercise. I do 200 pushups, 100 in the morning – 100 each afternoon, and 25 pull-ups each night. (I did not start out at these levels.) I also walk for at least 20 minuets every day.
6. Drink a liter of water a day.
7. Satisfy cravings with diet soda or calorie free flavored water.
8. Weigh every day. At first I weighed myself three times a week; this was a better way to see declines in weight. Now that I am in “holding” mode, I weigh myself every morning just before my shower. It is my goal to always be below 130 lbs.
9. Write goals down – I place my 130 lb goal in my New Year’s Resolution list in my journal every year. That pledge is always there to motivate my efforts.
10. Eat something you like every day. I eat a two cup bowl of Post Selects Great Grains, Raisin, Dates, and Pecans every morning.

By strict observance of this plan, I lost 75 lbs in just over a year. I started the NEP at Camp the summer of 2007 and by the end of camp 2008, I weighed 130 lbs or less. I had lost far more weight than I originally planned. I must admit that at first I didn’t know what weight was right for me. I just started losing weight and was surprised, and pleased at how much I did. Getting to and maintaining this weight for almost two years now was not easy; it is not easy. My experience has been that nothing of real value comes easy. There are advantages:

1. I feel better. I am free of the burden of carrying 75 pounds everywhere. I used to get winded walking to the campfire bowl at Loll. Now, I’m not concerned at walking any distance or climbing any hill. In the fall of 2008, our family took a trip to Zion’s National Park; I climbed to the top of Angle's Landing and didn’t even get my heart pounding –except from the fear of falling.
2. I enjoy my food a lot more. Before the N.E.P., I was full all the time, eating out of boredom or habit. Now, I have a sharp edged appetite and enjoy eating more.
3. I save money. There was a time when a trip anywhere necessitated a stop at the gas station; costing a $3+ treat expense –pop, cookies, and such. I no longer consume much expensive meat, cheese, or ice cream. There is a Diet Mountain Dew charge – but it is small by comparison.
4. I’m not ashamed to look in the mirror or see pictures of myself.
5. I have much more confidence. I may not be handsome, but at least I’m not fat.
6. My cholesterol is normal, my blood pressure excellent.
7. I (knock on wood) never get sick.
8. My clothes fit. I had to get a new wardrobe, new pants, belt, shirts, underwear, even sweaters. I bagged up all my old cloths and took them back to DI. The clothes I wear feel comfortable, never tight, never stretched.


1. People ask me and especially ask my wife, if I am dying of cancer.
2. There has been a rumor going around the scout council for two years that I was dying and that “this” will be my last year at Loll.
3. I look older than I did forty pounds ago. My skin got lose and baggy, it is getting to fit better, slowly.

Dangers that must be faced:

1. It’s hard to eat out. Avoid all-you-can-eat restaurants of any kind. They are a bane and an embarrassment to our culture; such public gluttony in shocking. I must attend such a restaurant twice a year with my father-in-law’s family. I take one small plate of salad and fish. I strengthen my resolve by looking at all the fat people in the room, and reminding myself that I want to live long enough to take my grandsons to General Priesthood meeting.
2. Be strong when you’re out with friends, or visiting with people who are hoping to entertain you. Here in Utah, one never serves liquor, but hosts make up for this by providing food at every meeting. Learn to say no and move quickly on to other things. People do not get offended if you are nice – and someone is always around to eat up your portion.
3. I’m hungry all the time. I tell myself that, “hungry is good”. In the days that I was trying to loose weight, I reminded myself that the hunger meant I was burning fat. Now I remind myself that I, not my appetite, am the master – and look forward to my bowl of cereal. I think of my grandkids.
4. Most of the folks I know who have lost weight by diet or surgery have gained it all back in a rather short time. It is so hard to lose weight, and so easy to gain it! So I remind myself that I cannot fail. I am even writing this post as a sort of commitment – a dare to myself to “keep it off”.

Some things I do for support:

1. I look at fat people and think to myself – there but for the grace of God and the N.E. P. go me. Wal-Mart is an especially good place to do this.
2. I look at the healthy and beautiful people that are all around me and seek inspiration in their strength and success.
3. I chew sugar free gum. It is like candy to me.
4. I play with my grandsons and enjoy watching them grow. I dream of seeing their sons as well. My father-in-law is a great source of inspiration to me.
5. I look forward to a long retirement; taking some satisfaction in realizing that my students will work many years to pay for my adventures yet to be. I know I could die at any moment, but it won’t be of being fat; over that I have, and have, taken control.
6. I fill my time with other activities so I don’t have to eat for entertainment. I draw, read, and write. I set goals for camp and school and work on them whenever I have free time.

The NEP was not entirely original to me nor is it without support in the medical world. I have been reading about it for years with my Greek and Roman History Class. In Xenophon’s ­­Laws and Customs of the Spartans, he recounts how Lycurgus guided the Spartans:

“As to food, he ordained that they should exhort the boys to take only such a quantity as never to be oppressed with overeating, and not to be strangers to living somewhat frugally; supposing that, being thus brought up, they would be the better able, if they should be required, to support toil under a scarcity of supplies, would be the more likely to persevere in exertion, should it be imposed on them, on the same quantity of provisions, and would be less desirous of sauces, more easily satisfied with any kind of food, and pass their lives in greater health. He also considered that the fare which rendered the body slender would be more conductive to increasing its stature that that which expanded it with nutriment.”

“Lycurgus, then, having found the Spartans, like other Greeks, taking their meals at home, and knowing that most were guilty of excess at them, caused their meals to be taken in public, thinking that his regulations would thus be less likely to be transgressed. He appointed them such a quantity of food, that they should neither be overfed nor feel stinted.”

"As Lycurgus observed, too, that those who , after taking food, exercised themselves, become well-complexioned, plump, and robust, while those who are inactive are puffy, unhealthy-looking, and feeble, he did not neglect to give attention to that point; . . . he ordered that the oldest in each place of exercise should take care that those belonging to it should never be overcome by taking too much food."

"With regard to this matter, he appears to me to have been by no means mistaken; for no one would easily find men more healthy, or more able-bodied, than the Spartans; for they exercise themselves alike in their legs, in their hands, and in their shoulders."

The N.E.P. has support in today’s scientific community. In a recent “Time Magazine”, (Feb 22, 2010), article by Bryan Walsh, the virtues of Lycurgus pronouncements are reinforced by modern research. The article titled, “Eat Less, Live Longer?” contains the following supportive commentary:

“Jon Apollos is losing weight the old-fashioned way – by eating less. . . Apollos has lowered his daily caloric intake 25% over the past eight months. The fat, not surprisingly, has melted away; the 52-year-old physical trainer has lost more than 25 lb. (11 kg) since the study began and is down to his high school weight. . . The researchers running the multi-center CALERIE study are trying to determine whether restricting food intake can slow the aging process and extend our life span. “I feel better and lighter and healthier,” says Apollos. “But if it could help you live longer, that would be pretty amazing. . ."

“. . . decades of calorie-restriction studies involving organisms ranging from microscopic yeast to rats have shown just that, extending the life spans of the semi-starved as much as 50% . . . finding that calorie restriction seemed to extend the lives of human like rhesus monkeys as well . . . any time you go on a diet, after all, you stand a good chance of lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol level and risk of diabetes and other health woes. All that can translate into extra years. With calorie restriction – usually defined as a diet with 25% to 30% fewer calories than normal but still containing essential nutrients – something else appears to be at work to extend longevity. . .”

“Scientists have suspected that calorie restriction could extent the life span of animals since at least 1935, when researchers at Cornell University noticed that severely food-restricted lab rats lived twice as long as normal ones and were healthier. Other investigators began exploring the idea and learned that the secret is not merely a matter of body weight: lab mice that ate normally but became skinny by exercising a lot showed no longevity improvements. Only the ones that didn’t eat many calories to begin with benefited. . .”

“Calorie restriction is pretty much the only thing out there that we know will not just prevent disease but also extend maximal life span,” says Dr. Marc Hellerstein, a nutritionist at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the biological effects of fasting.”

“The dieters lose weight almost immediately, usually reducing their body mass about 15% in the first year before plateauing. And they reap the expected health benefits: cholesterol and blood pressure drop precipitously. . .”

There are challenges mentioned in the “Time” article, and hope as well:

“In contemporary America, where calories are cheap and plentiful, cutting back 25% means almost constantly saying no. Alcohol is largely out, and dining with friends who aren’t denying themselves would become a chore. . . As for Apollos, who has 16 months to go on the CALERIE study, he has grown fond of abstention and says he wants to continue the diet even after the experiment is over. His improved health is, by itself, a form of renewed youth. But getting some extra years would be an even better one.”

So there it is – The N.E.P. Give it a try. For those who are interested, I hope to keep you posted on my efforts for a long, long time. As for grandchildren; I’m at five grandsons and counting!