I’d just like to make a few corrections…
Corrections, that is, to common fallacies that many Christians make, over and over. The first one, and the one that kicked off my desire to write this post, is pretty deep-seated throughout most of evangelical Christendom. The mocking of the “Big Bang” theory. I’ve been seeing a picture shared around a lot on my Christian friends’ Facebook pages, and since I can’t refute it there I will do so here…
The first mistake here is semantic: Atheism actually makes no claims about the beginning of the universe. Atheism is, as I have explained here before, simply the lack of a belief in a god or gods. Yes, most atheists believe that the universe started with some form of the Big Bang model, but that isn’t a requirement to be labeled an atheist.
Another thing that many Christians like to claim of atheism is that it is the belief that man evolved from monkeys. However, as with the beginnings of the universe, being an atheist does not automatically make you an evolutionist. To be sure, most atheists also believe the Theory of Evolution to be the best explanation for the diversity of species on earth.
Most, not all. Atheism is simply the assertion that there is no god. The only thing the idea of atheism itself actually insists on the beginnings of life, the universe, and everything is that a god had no part in it since no such thing exists.
All of this is besides the point that the explanation of the Big Bang in the above image is wrong. We don’t actually know what there was before the singularity that started this universe. What we do know is what happened moments after that event and what is happening now. From that evidence scientists have been able to extrapolate what happened within the first few moments of the existence of our universe. No one knows what happened before the singularity that started everything we see around us.
Contrary to what many Christians (the young-earth creationists) would have you believe, the Big Bang and Theory of Evolution are not the same thing. Evolution is the scientific theory that describes the way that genes change over time. It is used to explain the diversity of life on Earth. Evolution does not explain the origins of life, either.
Another common myth that many Christians like to spread is that evolution is “only” a theory and therefore should not be trusted. This is another linguistic misunderstanding. A scientific theory is an explanation of a set of observations that has been tested and found to be well-supported by evidence. (Iron Chariots Wiki: Theory) Evolution is a theory, it has also been proven to be a fact. Gravity and Relativity are also theories. I don’t see creationists going around saying that, “gravity is only a theory.”
I should point out that there are plenty of Christians who accept the Big Bang theory and the Theory of Evolution. As I’ve said, neither of them has anything to do with atheism (just the majority of atheists accept both as true, having been proven through evidence).
The final fallacy I’m going to address today is this: If we can’t explain it then, obviously, we must ascribe it to some supernatural power (aka god). This is the thinking that led Bill O’Reilly to make his infamous “tide comes in, tide goes out” statement (regardless of the fact that the tides can, indeed, be explained). To acknowledge that we can’t explain something (such as what existed before the Big Bang) doesn’t mean that we must, therefor, ascribe it to a supernatural creator. It simply means that we don’t have enough evidence to explain it.
People once couldn’t explain lightning and thunder. They made up a story (not a theory, by the way, but more akin to a hypothesis) to explain these things: a supernatural being was causing it with his hammer. We have since abandoned that hypothesis in light of better evidence and now understand that lightning is caused by atmospheric static electricity and thunder is a sonic shock wave caused by the super-heating of air by the lightning. No supernatural beings wielding hammers needed.
The last big of incorrect information in the above image is that atheists believe that stuff “magically” happened to cause the beginnings of life. It is the theists who believe in magical things happening for no reason. Rationalists (a better description of people who accept the Big Bang, evolution, and atheism) don’t believe in magic.
Why do I care? Because the disinformation being spread by the majority of evangelical Christians, the conservatives, the creationists, is false. They twist the truth and encourage myth. They spread lies like the image above and discourage studying truth. They love spreading phrases like, “Evolution isonly a theory!” I’m opposed to this for the same reason I’m opposed to people spreading messages that Facebook will start charging unless we all repost the status, or that Microsoft will track an e-mail and donate some amount of money for each person who forwards it, or that if you don’t forward this message then terrible things will happen to you.
IT IS NOT TRUTH. That is why I care. It hurts the advancement of science and human understanding. It often hurts the spread of true information regarding health (vaccinations, birth control, sexual health, nutrition), ecology, climate, and human rights. It hurts the education of children when creationists insist that creationism and “intelligent design” be taught along-side, or instead of, evolution and cosmology.